I remember my father telling me that if I found myself to be the smartest person in the room, I'm in the wrong room. When I grew a bit older and began sharing this notion with others, some thought it had to do with belittling oneself, not allowing yourself to reach your full potential and servitude. On the contrary, my father was teaching me to constantly become a better MERCEDES. How? Surrounding myself with people who can inspire me to push myself to MORE made 'success' inevitable. The Bible speaks plenty on bad (or unneccesary) company corrupting good behavior, meaning what we allow around us will eventually permeate into who we are. This proverb can be used for almost every facet of life. However, for this article, I want to stick to basics on one particular issue....
Surrounding yourself with 'greater' is foundated on being confident and comfortable with YOU. I don't know how many of you reading this are in the mood to tell the Truth, but I found myself, especially during my college years, feeling discomfort whenever I was invited to a formal setting. Mercedes, why would you feel uncomfortable? Isn't that a time to get dressed up, speak with 'big' vocabulary and try to impress the person next to you? That might've been what other people were there for, but all I could think of were the array of dishes and cutlery that seemed to CROWD the table. At first, I simply chose the fork that fit my hand best, the closest cup to my plate setting and the charger plate placed infront of me so all of my food could fit. Smh. It wasn't until I noticed the mannerisms of my fellow dining guests that all of those dishes had a PURPOSE.
Once I became familiar with the function of formal dinnerware, I felt a surge of peace anytime someone wanted me to attend a formal event setting. I sat straighter, felt a bit taller and found myself enjoying my time at the table. Now delving in the Event & Meeting Industry, I see the importance of knowing simple table etiquette and formal dining manners. For all of you who saw the Facebook posting I placed yesterday as a promo to this week's blog, it might've seemed obvious which plate option displayed the correct utensil placement to silently signal to a trained waiter that you are done with eating. For those who missed it, here's what my Facebook audience saw:
For those who thought 'Option A', that's INCORRECT.
Utensils are placed on the sides of a plate or platter at the start of each course, if not already placed at the beginning of the meal. Be advised that once a utensil is used for eating, it shouldn't touch the table. The end of the meal should include the utensils being placed onto the plate and taken away.
For those who answered 'Option C', that's INCORRECT.
Take notice to the strategic placing of the knife verses the fork. This is obviously intentional. To you, it's a break from the food to either take a sip, laugh, excuse yourself from the table or join the chatter. To a waiter, it says, "Don't you dare take my food away. I'm not playing with you...". If you are at a formal setting and want to take an intermission, simply place your knife at the one o'clock position, and your fork at the four o'clock position, faced up, over your food. Be sure to pat yourself on the back when you notice the substantial distance between you and your waiter.
For those who answered 'Option B', that's CORRECT.
When you are finished with your meal, place your fork and knife parallel to each other, at the four o'clock position, face up. This serves as a "morse code" to trained serving staff, and they'll be able to effectively clear off the table, fulfilling their job without interupting or offending guests.
Basic formal mannerisms, such as those mentioned above, are common amongst those familiar with ultra formal, elegant and classic gatherings. With that being said, here are (3) other table tips that are easy to remember:
(1) Tableware are placed by staff INTENTIONALLY. If you have absolutely no idea of what you are looking at, simply work from the outer layer of dishes and work your way in! If soup and salad are the first courses, you'll be sure to find a salad fork on your outermost left and a soup spoon on your outermost right. You'll also be sure to see a smaller bowl as the first of a set of dishes infront of your chair. So on and so forth...
(2) When excusing yourself from the table during a meal, place your napkin on your chair. This respects the other guests at the table and the host, who have chosen to continue their meal. Once the meal is meant to be complete, the formal host will put his or her napkin on the table, as should you. Don't try to refold, dust off or crumple the napkin -- placing it on the left side of your plate will suffice. lol
and last but not least...
(3) There's no such thing as fashionably late. Someone who couldn't come on time established this theory of it being cool to arrive late. Now, I of all people can understand that life happens, and I've been guilty of showing up to gatherings AFTER its' starting time. However, with 2015 being a year of growth, let's make a change people. To event planners, the first hour is usually for mingling purposes, giving guests a chance to settle in and get comfortable before sitting down for dinner. If you're late, you miss that nestling process and are straight up tardy for dinner. Saying excuse me, blocking other guests' view, making noise while pulling out your chair and then having the nerve to give a sigh of relief once you've sit down. SMH. You should be ashamed of yourself lolol
In all seriousness, KNOWLEDGE is a true power, and you'll be surprised at how confident you'll be the next time you find yourself at a formal gathering. Work that table!
Love you all & thanks for reading <3