I am asked many questions regarding etiquette. Here are the top 4 etiquette questions commonly asked.
1) What is the No. 1 mistake that people make at the table? Poor posture! We spend so much time in front of a computer or sitting that, many times, our posture literally curves. As a result, our face ends up inches from our plate. We also unnecessarily use our arm to hold ourselves up at the table. You should sit up straight and bring food to your mouth. It’s almost a 90-degree angle. It is better for your back and for your table manners.
2) Is it ever OK to put a cell phone on the table? No. When you put a cell phone on the table, you are telling the other person that they are not important enough to get your undivided attention. Anyone that calls, regardless of who or for whatever reason, is going to interrupt the conversation. You will be interrupted, forced to eavesdrop on a conversation that doesn’t concern you, and then expected to continue where you left off. If you have a potential emergency like a sick child or parent, you need to let your dining companion know that you may need to excuse yourself briefly and take a call. Then the phone goes on your chair, lap, purse or pocket; anywhere that is not visible. Then you excuse yourself to take the call.
3) Is it OK to send an email thank-you note? It depends on the situation. If it is for a job interview, a handwritten thank-you note is recommended. I know that social media and the Internet are changing how we communicate; however, there are still situations that require the traditional protocol. Some individuals may send an email and think it’s perfectly fine, but why take the risk with something as important as your career? The person that demonstrates how much he or she wants the job is the one that is noticed.
If the thank-you is for something very casual or for something small, an email is acceptable. For example, if you have been invited to a relative’s home for a casual occasion and need to say thank-you, then, yes, an email or quick phone call will suffice. If someone did something nice for you that wasn’t a huge deal, then, yes, an email is OK.
4) How do I get my child signed up for an etiquette training class? Group classes are posted on the Cleveland School of Etiquette website. Currently, training classes for young people are starting in April on Sunday afternoons. Private training is also available upon request.
Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.