More than simple table manners, there are a number of courtesies and etiquette rules to follow when dining in a restaurant.
1. Honor your reservation.
A no-show or late arrival cost the restaurant and staff money in lost revenue and tips. If you make a dinner reservation, be sure to honor it. If for any reason you can no longer attend, let the restaurant know as soon as possible so they can fill the table.
2. Dress appropriately.
When dining in a high-end establishment, dress the part! Did you know that a number of restaurants are considering bringing back dress codes? I am all for it!
3. Wait for your server to come to you.
Snapping, waving, or yelling to your server is simply not appropriate. Wait for them to come to you. If you desperately need their attention, try to catch their eye line but nothing more.
4. Keep the table clear of personal items.
Cell phones, purses, wallets, sunglasses, and the like should not be placed on the table. Leaving your phone on the table in particular is a distraction and shows that you are not fully present with your dining companions. You should not use your phone for the duration of the meal. Pro Tip: if you are waiting for an important call, place your phone beneath your leg on your seat.
5. Treat your server with the utmost respect.
Look at your server when they are speaking and when you are ordering, say “please” and “thank you.” If something is wrong with your meal, communicate this politely and discreetly.
6. Wait for everyone to be served before you begin eating.
If the food is hot and everyone else has been served, be sure to tell your companions they may begin without you.
7. Use non-verbal etiquette cues to communicate with your server.
Non-verbal cues in the form of cutlery positions can tell your server whether you have finished or are still working on your dish. Use the open position to indicate you have not yet finished, and the closed position to indicate they may take your plate (explained in more detail here). Similarly, a napkin placed upon your seat means you have only left the table temporarily.
8. There is no need to explain when leaving the table temporarily.
If you need to use the restroom, there is no need to explain where you are going. Simply say, “please excuse me,” when leaving the table.
9. When a woman approaches the table, a man should stand up.
This also goes for when she gets up to leave the table. This is a traditional etiquette rule but I believe we should continue to honor it. Note: this practice applies to social situations, in a business setting this is not done.
10. If you require separate checks, tell your server in advance.
It is far easier for a server to split the bill if they are aware in advance. They can keep track of what each person orders and keep them on separate checks. However, it is important to note that this is a courtesy, not a right. Many restaurants limit the number of separate checks and/or how many cards can be used to split a bill. Large parties should plan ahead when it comes to how they will pay.
11. Tip fairly and generously.
Basic restaurant etiquette and standard practice in the United States is to tip 20% for good service. Even if you felt your service was not up to par, you still must tip. Restaurant staff are paid significantly below minimum wage, as tips are intended to make up the bulk of their income. Whether you agree with the practice of tipping or not, cutting into someone’s wages because they made a simple mistake is unfair and unkind.
12. Push your chair in when leaving the table.
Pushing your chair back into its proper position is simply good manners. It helps keep aisles clear in tight spaces and looks much tidier.
I hope you have found these restaurant etiquette tips helpful! If you are interested in polishing your poise and learning more about social, business, and dining etiquette, follow my Instagram for everyday tips or reach out to book a one-to-one training.
In our bustling world, we regularly encounter people who are not using their manners, being mindful of others, or even putting an effort into the way they have presented themselves to the world. As a result, when someone shows us a common courtesy or is pulled together, we really notice! I believe we should all strive to be that little bit more polished, that little bit more courteous, and be the change we wish to see. Read on for 25 quick tips to be more elegant, polished, and poised each day!
1. Maintain good posture.
Stand with your shoulders back and keep your eye line high. If you are looking down at your feet, your head inevitably follows. Pull your stomach in and place your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
2. Smile and offer a firm handshake when meeting someone new.
First impressions matter. A warm smile and a firm handshake show confidence and a welcoming demeanor.
3. Remove your sunglasses when introducing yourself.
Eye contact is important, especially when first meeting someone. By removing our sunglasses, we show respect for the other person. Furthermore, consider this: if you only met someone with sunglasses on, then saw them without on the street, would you remember their face? Removing your sunglasses helps the other person form a mental picture by showing them your face.
4. Greet people with an uplifting, “good morning!”
Or depending on the time of day, “good afternoon” or “good evening.” There is something so inviting and polite about these greetings. Offering a stranger a warm, “good morning” while walking the dogs simply makes for a more polite society.
5. Opt for more formal forms of speech.
Instead of, “thanks,” say “thank you.” In place of “sure,” try “certainly.” Swap “hi” for “hello” (or “good morning!” as above). These small changes can make a significant difference in how you are perceived.
6. Use the correct response to someone asking, “how are you?”
The correct response to “how are you?” is “I am well, thank you. How are you?”
7. The words “please” and “thank you” will always be important.
Add to this, “you’re welcome” and “excuse me.” There is a reason these are among the first manners we teach our children. They are foundational!
8. Take care with your body language.
Often our body language will be believed over our words. For example, if you say “I am so happy to be here” with slumped shoulders and a frown, your body language is speaking louder than your words.
9. Give your full attention.
If you are in conversation with someone, be present with them. Do not look around the room, check your phone, or run through your to-do list in your head. Being in the moment and asking thoughtful questions is how we make true connections.
10. Respect the privacy of others.
Never pry into someone’s personal life. Ask yourself, am I asking because I truly need to know, or is it just to satisfy my own curiosity? If it is the latter (and it usually is) do not ask further questions.
11. Learn the difference between “can I” and “may I?”
“Can I” is about ability whereas “may I” is about permission. You can borrow my pen but do I want you to? “May I” is the correct way to ask permission, i.e. “may I borrow your pen?”
12. Be punctual.
Elegant people are not late nor are they in a rush. Arriving on time show you are respectful of another person’s time. Leave the house a little early wherever possible to allow for unforeseen circumstances.
13. Address others with the correct pronouns.
The pronouns “they” and “them” might be new to many but they are simply a matter of respect. Do your very best to address a person with the pronouns they identify with. If a person corrects you on their pronouns it is polite to apologize, thank them for the correction, and use the correct pronoun thereafter. If you say the wrong pronoun and catch yourself, take a moment to correct yourself, i.e. “I’m sorry, I meant ‘they,’” and continue with what you were saying.
14. Limit your use of chewing gum.
Did you know it is not permissible to chew gum in the presence of the Royal Family? Chewing gum certainly is not the most elegant practice. It is similar to chewing food, if you must chew gum it should only be done with the mouth closed, never smacked, and one should never talk at the same time.
Truthfully, gum should not be chewed or disposed of in public, and on the whole, it is preferable to use mints for breath refreshment.
15. Do not gossip.
The adage “what Suzy says of Sally says more of Suzy than of Sally,” will forever hold true. It is simply not polite to speak ill of others or speculate on another person’s circumstances.
16. Send thank-you notes.
A handwritten thank-you note will always be elegant. Send them in response to gifts, dinner parties, or when someone has simply done something nice for you. Choose chic stationery and always handwrite them.
17. Dress up.
Dress for the occasion, my darlings! Even if that occasion is simply going to the grocery store. You will always feel good knowing you pulled yourself together.
18. Apply perfume with care.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you are wearing too much perfume is if you can smell it on yourself after a few minutes. Furthermore, if you leave a room and your scent lingers, you may have too much on. Ask a friend or partner so you can adjust accordingly in the future.
19. Be mindful of cell phone usage around others.
Oh, the cell phone. This is an article in and of itself (more on that here). In short: avoid using your cell phone around others, i.e. step away from others to take calls; Do not use speakerphone or scroll with the volume on in public spaces; And take care with your ring volume in quiet zones such as theaters, yoga studios, and spas or nail salons.
Did you know the tone of the human voice changes when we are smiling? In fact, humans can recognize that a person is smiling by the tone of their voice alone. A smile puts others at ease and helps to make a great first impression.
21. Tip generously.
Tip a minimum of 20% in service-based transactions, including restaurants and spa services.
22. Mind your temper.
We must always aim to respond rather than react. If tensions run high, you may want to excuse yourself. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, consider the issue from the other person’s point of view, and pause for some deep breaths. When you return, try starting with: “hat I am hearing is you feel this. That was not my intention.”
This goes for digital correspondence, too. Do not write an email while angry and never use all caps (also known as yelling in digital speak).
23. Learn the art of the apology.
There are few things less elegant than being unable to acknowledge a mistake. Learning to take accountability and apologize for wrongdoing, however small, is a sign of emotional maturity. Remember, if your choices, words, or behavior hurts a person’s feelings, those feelings are valid. Regardless of whether you feel they are overreacting or out of line, their feelings matter and an apology is necessary.
24. Take care of your wardrobe.
Choose pieces that suit you and take great care of them. An iron, a steamer, a reliable dry cleaner, and an excellent tailor will make all the difference.
25. Be YOU.
Elegance is not about putting on airs or a phony persona, it is about being the best possible version of yourself. Learn what you love, what flatters your very essence, and what makes your heart sing so that you can better honor yourself and your unique personality.
My love of dogs *might* border on “Crazy Dog Lady,” but it is a title I will happily wear! When I married Mr. Lyons, my dog family grew from a single Beagle named Fred Rogers, to a wild trio with the addition of Molly and Zoe. We love our little menagerie and they are all three at my feet as I write this.
When it comes to pets, and dogs in particular, there are a number of pet etiquette rules we should observe. These protect both the safety of our pets and fellow humans, as well as offer general courtesy towards those who may not find our dogs quite as charming as we do! *wink
1. Always use a leash in public spaces.
Truthfully, there are leash laws in most cities for a reason. Your dog may be the friendliest, most obedient friend but someone else’s may not. There are a myriad of unfortunate events that can occur when dogs meet without proper control by their owners.
I once found a sweet dog on her own, covered in sand and soaking wet yet miles from the beach. When I called the number on her collar, the owners were horrified to learn how far away she was, saying their dog was attacked by an unfriendly dog at the beach and ran away. This dog had traveled about five miles, crossing numerous bridges and busy streets in the process. Everyone involved was so fortunate she had survived unscathed but there are so many heartbreaking stories in which this is not the case.
We simply cannot know an animal’s behavior. In the interest of keeping everyone and their pets safe, we must keep our dogs on leashes when they are not in a secure, enclosed space.
2. Do not allow your dog to approach strangers or other dogs without permission.
Simply put, not everyone is dog-friendly. We simply cannot know a person’s sensibility and there are many who might not like to be approached by a dog they do not know. A simple, “may they say hello?” should suffice for any interactions your dog has with humans or other animals.
3. Similarly, ask permission before petting a person’s dog.
You may want to pet every dog you see (I know I do! *wink) but not everyone feels the same way. They may prefer you leave their dog alone or their dog may be unfriendly. Ask permission before petting someone’s dog, and be sure to ask permission from the dog too! Allow the dog to come to you and allow them to smell the back of your hand before petting them.
4. It is a pet etiquette must to pick up after your dog.
This should go without saying but I believe we have all seen this happen too often to not mention it. If you run out of bags, go home and get one. There truly is no excuse for leaving the unmentionable on someone’s lawn.
5. Do not bring your pet to a person’s home without express permission.
They say, “assumption is the mother of all mistakes” and it certainly applies here. We cannot assume your friend will be comfortable with your dog in their home. Even if you have brought your dog to their home before, it is always necessary to ask in advance.
6. Train your dog to not jump up onto people.
Anyone who has struggled with this behavior knows it can be difficult to tame. However, we must find ways to teach our dogs (especially large dogs) not to jump up onto people. If your dog does jump up and damage someone’s clothing, you should offer to pay the repair or dry cleaning bill.
7. Take great care with your dogs around children.
Like dogs, children can be unpredictable. Depending on the age they may not have well developed motor skills and may do things that upset even the friendliest dog. Unless your dog has been socialized with children and you know they will not react, take great care before allowing kids to pet or play with your dog.
8. Pay attention at the dog park.
A lot can go wrong at the dog park. It is important to monitor your dog closely. If your dog is exhibiting bad behavior, it is your responsibility to remove your dog and keep everyone out of harm’s way.
9. If your dog shows signs of aggression, they should not be around other people, children, or dogs.
A dog who shows aggression can sometimes be trained. However, you cannot allow unknowing participants to act as test subjects. If your dog has shown signs of aggression in the past, take care to protect anyone it comes into contact with.
10. Keep pets secure when workers are present.
As someone who has undergone many renovations in the past year, I can say with certainty that a secured dog is a must when workers are present. Dogs can easily escape or be injured in this busy situation. It is not the responsibility of your contractors to monitor your pet’s safety.
11. Service animals are highly trained and crucial to those who rely upon them, do not lie about a dog’s service skill.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. The internet has made it very easy to purchase a “service animal” vest or collar on the internet. Etiquette involves obeying the rules that keep our society functioning. Abusing a system made to support the disabled so that a person can take their dog to the grocery store is categorically inappropriate. Widespread abuse makes life more difficult for those who truly need this system.
This has, in fact, already happened within the realm of Emotional Support Animals. These are pets (typically dogs) who are certified by a Psychologist help to calm a person who has severe anxiety or PTSD. Airlines used to allow such individuals to bring their dogs on a plane with them to support them during their flight. However, due to widespread abuse (you may have seen the emotional support peacock news story), most airlines have outright banned ESA animals. This removes a crucial line of support for people who truly need this service.
I hope you found these pet etiquette tips helpful! Would you like to improve your etiquette skills? Polish your poise with my etiquette training and offerings. Kindly get in touch to learn more.
Etiquette is Old-Fashioned
Manners and etiquette are by no means old-fashioned and outdated. Do we really want to imagine a world without manners? Without social graces and pleasantries, we would be living in quite a chaotic and uncaring society. Certainly, etiquette moves and evolves with the times. However, the absolute foundations of etiquette are kindness and courtesy which will never go out of style.
Etiquette is Reserved for Royals
Royal etiquette is indeed quite detailed. They take it to a level most of us mere mortals will never encounter. However, the truth is etiquette is for everyone! When you hold the door for the person behind you, that is etiquette. Placing your napkin in your lap– etiquette. Tipping a server fairly– etiquette. Who would not want more of that in their life?
Etiquette is Full of Seemingly Random Rules
It certainly may seem this way at times but once you understand the “why” behind a particular rule, you wonder how you ever did things any other way! For example, at a networking event or conference, your name tag should be worn on your right side. Why? Because it is an extension of the hand you will use for handshakes when introducing yourself to someone. That just makes sense, right?
Etiquette is About Superiority
This could not be further from the truth. Etiquette is about making others feel comfortable and treating everyone with courtesy and respect. In fact, a sign of poor etiquette or bad manners is to point out another person’s mistakes. It is not about superiority, etiquette is about extending grace to everyone you meet.
Etiquette Means Always Being “Nice”
The perception that to have good manners you must always be nice and therefore allow people to walk all over you is simply not true. In fact, a key aspect of etiquette is learning to create firm boundaries in a polite manner. So, raise your hand if you have ever struggled with boundaries! Etiquette is for you my darling.
Etiquette is Stuffy
If you believe people who practice etiquette are still living like it is Downton Abbey, then no wonder you believe etiquette is stuffy! While I will forever love Downton Abbey, modern etiquette has moved on. Etiquette evolves with the times. We no longer kiss a woman’s hand upon meeting. We no longer clutch our pearls over a woman alone in the garden (looking at you Bridgerton fans!). Modern etiquette means navigating modern life with grace and courtesy, not rigidity.
If you would like to learn more about modern etiquette and manners, follow my Instagram or subscribe to my newsletter for tips, tricks, and updates. Interested in hosting an etiquette class for your networking event, team-building, or business? I would love to hear from you! Kindly reach out here.