Fine Dining Survival Guide

Let’s be honest, staring at an elaborate dinner setting can be overwhelming. But you don't have to panic. Just follow Modern Manners Guy's 3 easy tips to survive any fine dining experience.

Richie Frieman,
September 23, 2013
Episode #264

Page 2 of 2

Tip #2: Follow the Leader

If you follow the leader or host, you can get by just doing as they do. Simply watch how they hold their utensils, which glass they use, which fork. 

At every event, there is always one person who is either directing traffic or is well-versed in dining etiquette. But sometimes that person is not you. And to make things worse, when you encounter an elaborate table setting, you feel like you’re the only one on earth who has never dined with anything other than paper plates.  Stop it, you’re not alone. You’re not even close to being alone. If anything, most people are in exactly the same boat -- they just don’t let it show. That’s the mentality you need to have.

Always play it cool, and don’t let them see you sweat. If you follow the leader or host, you can get by just doing as they do (be careful not to draw too much attention to yourself).  Simply watch how they hold their utensils, which glass they use, which fork. As well, pay attention to when they eat. This is something that always wigs people out because they don’t want to be the ones to scarf down their meal right away. However, with patience and a little attention to the details of how the leader operates, you can comfortably enjoy your meal before it gets cold without looking like a rube.

Tip #3: Admit You're New at This

This next tip takes a lot of self confidence, but it also has a touch of charm and innocence to it.  

Not all of us can fake it to make it, or find that by putting up a front, we will feel too nervous to enjoy the experience.  As I said earlier, memorizing or being pressured to know what is what at an elaborate table, can be exhausting. So in this tip, I'm advising those more adventurous and confident to lay down the fork and knife to say, "I'll be honest with you, I don't even know where to begin!" 

You might be thinking that admitting you don't know squat about fine dining etiquette may make you look uncivilized. In fact, that is hardly the case. This technique is actually a way of flipping the tables on your dilemma. Admitting you're a newbie at dining etiquette allows you to invite the person at the table who is really "into" the art of dining to guide you along the way and have fun with the experience.

This is a way of saying that you have no problem learning new things and that you are open to other's expertise - both of these are really attractive qualities to others.

Just one thing: Use this technique only for social occasions, not the important dinner with the big client. You don't want to distract others from the business at hand. 

I delve a lot more into the best ways to navigate nerve racking dining events and other aspects of the professional world in my new book Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career. It's available for now as a paperback, ebook, and even as an audiobook, read by me!

Do you have a great story about how you felt staring nervously at a dinner setting? Post all the details in the comment section. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Dinner image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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