Kim's - Valuable Tips, Ideas, and Insights to greater Confidence and Success

Kimberley Roberts etiquette, manners, confidence, and success go hand-in-hand Welcome to my ClassyTip for this week which focuses on:

- Appearance
- Behavior
- Communication

- Excuse me, which one is my glass? - Tip #16

How many times have you attended a business or social event where you were seated at a large round table with seven to eleven other people? The table is loaded with plates, and more plates, glassware, napkins, silverware, forks almost running into spoons. With so much on the table and everything too close, there’s not even one square inch of table surface showing around the perimeter.

A round table is perfect for a small group, up to eight, because conversations can include everyone at the table. But when the group gets larger, the table becomes so big that it’s impossible to talk with the person 'across the way' without shouting, and the circumference is so wide that it’s similar to sitting at a rectangular table trying to carry on a conversation with your dinner partners. And this is just the beginning!

The next challenge is determining which real estate belongs to you. As you subtly survey the scene in front of you, even the floral centerpiece doesn’t help, because there aren’t ribbons radiating from it to mark each person’s piece of the pie. "Surely, I can figure this out", you think.

Just then the lady sitting to your right has picked up a glass of water and started to sip from it. The glass she took looked like it just might belong to you, but does it? Then the gentleman seated to your left has just picked up a roll from the small plate that appears to be setting in your 'easement'. Does that make this small plate part of the 'public park district', and anyone can use it? "Should I have had my fork ready to defend my roll with a quick stab to the intruding hand?" you think to yourself.

Dining with friends, acquaintances, business associates, or even strangers who are attending the same function is meant to provide an opportunity for enjoyable conversations. When tables are set for these occasions, table space is usually limited, and one place setting abuts the next. Understanding the layout is like having a map in your head, and your dining experience will be a pleasant journey because you know the route.

Quick Tip: As you approach the table, before you sit down, visually survey the area as a landscape. This is your overview perspective; now, focus on your piece of property. For a round table, mentally divide it up as if you were cutting a piece of pie. Within the 'slice' in front of you are all the plates, dishes, silverware and glassware for your territory, so quickly take a mental inventory of them. This visual assessment, taken while you’re still standing, only takes a moment and helps give you your bearing.

The dinner plate is the center of your place setting, and everything else is positioned relative to it. For formal settings, this plate is a service plate that will be removed when the dinner plate is brought out.

Silverware is placed on each side of the dinner/service plate with forks (fish, meat, and salad) on the left, and knives (salad, meat, and fish) to the immediate right, with spoons (soup and fruit) to the right of the knives.

The silverware is always placed in the order in which it will be used through the meal, with the first implements you’ll use at the outside edges. There should not be more than three of the same type of implement; however, an oyster fork breaks this rule by becoming the fourth fork, and is positioned on the right of the spoons, not on the left with the other forks.

Glassware is always positioned on the right hand side of the setting, above the knives, in either "rows", a cluster, or a diagonal line so the smaller ones aren’t hidden by larger ones.

Above the forks on the left side of the setting is your bread plate, often with a butter knife.

At many banquets, you may have a dessert fork and spoon already in place above the service plate, and a coffee cup placed with the glasses.

Not to confuse the issue, but if the dinner is 'European style', the salad will be served after the entrée.

Let's briefly review, starting from the left 'property line' of your place setting going across to the right: Forks with bread plate above, dinner plate in the middle, next the knives and spoons, with our glassware and cup above and to the right.

This overview will give you the information needed to "stake your claim" at the next roundtable you encounter.

If after all your surveying, you find that someone at the table has inadvertently used a neighbors butter plate, glass or eating utensil, don’t draw attention to this fact. Quietly ask the waiter for the piece required, or discreetly make an adjustment within your own place setting, if possible. I’ve been at dinners where everyone wound up using their neighbor’s bread and butter plate because the first person at the table started with the wrong one, and everyone else at the table was very gracious, not wanting to call attention to the error.

The classy person is a real estate developer who knows where the boundaries are for his or her property on the table, and can then focus on more important activities – enjoying the dinner conversations.

I'm Looking forward to sending you another of my ClassyTips next Wednesday. Until then, have a great week, and don't forget to visit my Forum that answers your questions on 'Becoming the Best You Can Be'.

Kiberley Roberts ClassyTips

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