3 Etiquette Faux Pas That Aren't So Bad After All

Sometimes it's time to look back at popular faux pas and revisit their validity. 

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #389

I like to consider myself a not-so-ordinary manners enthusiast. Look at my tenure of work and you’ll find a lot of topics (bathroom etiquette, breakups, views on office life) that some “elitists” would turn their nose up to. I believe that as we evolve as a society, so must our perception of manners. Times change, people change, and so do manners.

With that, it doesn’t hurt to revisit some common etiquette issues to reassess their validity. I mean, they don’t call me Modern Manners Guy for nothing, right? So, let’s dig back into the vault of etiquette and check out my 3 etiquette faux pas you may want to revisit:

Tip #1: Elbows on the Table

We all know the basics of manners; please and thank you, hold the door open, chew with your mouth closed, don’t let your kids watch Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars before seeing the others, etc. One topic I get asked a lot is about placing your elbows on the dinging table. I for one am not a big fan of resting your body on a table like it’s an arm wrestling match while you eat dinner. It’s a stigma that has been beaten into our brains since childhood; a person who puts their elbows on the table is immediately branded as improper. However, I argue that when someone places their elbows on a table, they are not doing out of lack of proper etiquette (as perceived) but rather not realizing they’re doing it at all, along with feeling more comfortable with the company around the table. For example, even though I’m very conscious of my body language when I dine, if I am having a great time, and feel very relaxed I loosen up. YIKES! Quick, someone take away my “manners card.” With that, I firmly believe that although not resting your elbows on the table is important to show your dining skills, there are surely exceptions and alternatives to this etiquette faux pas.

As I said, body language while dining is key. After all, I find it highly unmannerly when people overly slouch, chew with their mouth open (don’t even get me started on that one), or make exaggerated motions scenes with their tone (whether on purpose or not). Yet I do believe that just because someone rests their arms on a table does not mean they lack all sense of etiquette. To that point, try not to place your elbows on the table but instead try your forearms and gently lean into the table when talking. As a person who talks with their hands as I do, I find that using proper body language helps make for a better conversation. As well, it also helps to “lean in” to your party as you engage them to make for a more personal encounter. So, even though elbows on the table is not a complete deal breaker, try for a compromise and don’t be too hard on someone for wanting a bit more comfort when they’re dining.

Tip #2: Electronics at the Table

Hands down, the single rudest thing any diner can do is to use their cell phone while dining. If you have to check your phone when you get a text, that’s fine. If you want to show someone a photo or even take a photo of a meal, that’s perfectly okay. However, the phone should never be an accessory to dinnerware. So as much as I hate phones at the table, not all instances of going mobile while dining should be seen as improper. In fact, sometimes using a cell phone at the table is not only proper (in today’s age) but also a necessity.  Although I hate when people hang on their phone like a baby with a stuffed animal at rest time, depending on the situation, a phone can get a free pass on two occasions; loneliness and parenting. Hear me out…