Table Manners Tips for Grown-Ups

Table Manners Tips for Grown-Ups

How not to gross out or annoy your dining companions.

Because so many people eat on-the-go or at different times, there aren’t as many opportunities to learn or reasons to use table manners.

And, if you are used to eating alone, it is easy to fall into habits like licking your fingers, stuffing your mouth, and getting up whenever you feel like it. Not habits that are appealing when eating with others, especially if you’re eating at some of the best restaurants Roanoke has to offer.

Here is a list of basic table manners tips to help you be a pleasant dining companion:

  • Don’t be the one that reaches across the table to grab the turkey leg.
  • Don’t start eating until those around you have their plate.
  • Don’t overload your plate.
  • Pace yourself. Fast eaters: Don’t chow down, put the fork down if necessary. Slow eaters: You might have to leave food on your plate to avoid holding everyone up.
  • Don’t talk about how much better your gravy recipe is, or negatively comment about any of the dishes. Totally rude!
  • Use the napkin. Especially if you have a mustache or beard.
  • Take small bites. No one enjoys watching your cheek bulge.
  • Chew with your mouth closed. Enough said.
  • Don’t use your fingers to swipe food that’s stuck in your gums.
  • Don’t ask for ‘seconds.’ The host may not have enough to offer to everyone.
  • Use the utensils. (You’re a grown up now.)
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation.
  • No need to announce that you need to go to the bathroom. A quiet, ‘excuse me’ as you get up and go is fine.
  • Try to sit up. Try not to lean back and grunt.
  • Don’t lecture anyone about your beliefs, causes, dietary preferences, etc.
  • If you accidentally burp, pass gas, or a chunk of chewed turkey flies out of your mouth, simply say, ‘I’m sorry’ and move on.
  • If the host says ‘grace’ and it’s not your thing, sit quietly until it’s over = respect.
  • Keep the conversation uplifting and neutral. (NO politics, even if someone brings it up! And, if there are children at the table, watch yo’ mouth.)
  • Unless you are the host (even then, it can be awkward), don’t make any significant announcements. (Getting divorced, I’m moving back to mom’s house…you get the picture, right?)
  • Put your cell phone away.
  • Dress like you care. It shows respect to the host that you took time to dust off your shoes or wear a clean [collared] shirt.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. (Hosts are tired, take a hint.)
  • Don’t get drunk. That ruins everyone’s night…dealing with you.
  • Thank the host(s). Sending a hand-written thank you note is always best, but if you don’t have any, an email is acceptable.

All of the above apply no matter where you dine, from a fast-food joint to a fine-dining restaurant. The point is to be considerate of others. So simple.

Bon appétit.

Don't Burp in the Boardroom, business etiquette trainingI’m Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Speaker/Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

I offer presentations to support HR policies, sales team, managers, as part of the new-hire orientation process, in-home technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me.


Photo source: 123RF

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  1. Thanks for reminding me to dress up appropriately when going to a formal dinner. My husband was promoted as a senior manager recently so I’m planning on surprising him with a meal in a fine dining restaurant. I think these tips would be really helpful for us since we’re not used to fine dining, so I’ll make sure to keep these tips in mind once I find a good restaurant this week.

    • Rosalinda

      Hello Claire,

      A bit delayed in acknowledging your post. Thank you. I hope your fine dining experience went well.

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