Manners & Misdemeanors

25 Things We Learned at Etiquette School

For starters, "ladies first" is no longer a thing.
Comments

When I was younger, my parents would regularly threaten to enroll me in finishing school. As a suburban tomboy I lacked some of the finer social graces, like the inability to not inhale meals or properly mask contempt for some of my peers.

So, needless to say, they were absolutely delighted when I told them I’d be taking an intensive six-hour etiquette course as part of The Plaza Hotel’s Finishing Program with Beaumont Etiquette.

The morning of my class, I had trepidations about my outfit (a Lilly Pulitzer sweater dress and Barbour jacket owned by most of Manhattan) but I wanted to be comfortable—and upon arrival, my fears were confirmed. I was greeted by Myka Meier, the exquisite founder of Beaumont Etiquette, who quickly put my ensemble to shame. Wearing a white pussy bow button-down, black equestrian leggings, heels, and ornate emerald earrings, she looked every bit like a woman who trained under a former member of Queen Elizabeth II’s royal household.

Myka Meier

My classmates and I—about fifteen or so women and a sprinkling of men—settled into a suite, which would serve as our “classroom” for the day. I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was one of the few NYC residents; students had traveled from D.C. and East Hampton to attend, and while most people were hoping to brush-up on their social etiquette, others saw the course as an opportunity for business networking.

A selection of my takeaways (trust me, there were a full day’s worth) from the class included:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

THE PURPOSE OF ETIQUETTE

1. Etiquette, it seems, is all about instilling confidence. Meier encouraged us to ignore any lingering social anxiety—the voice in your head telling you everything that you’re doing is wrong—and instead concentrate on the people you’re with.

2. Etiquette shouldn’t be confused with snobbery. It’s about being kind, thoughtful, and—if you’re the host—putting everyone before yourself. For example, the extra cutlery at a dinner setting may look pretentious, but in actuality, its purpose is to provide your guest with everything he/she could possibly need.


BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

3. Modern etiquette dictates that hand shakes are gender neutral; both parties are expected to stand.

4. When in doubt, give someone a handshake (always right hand to right hand) rather than a hug or air kiss. Remember there is a thin line between an assertive handshake and an aggressive one.


5. Make eye contact and smile while shaking hands. Never place your hand above or below the other person’s—the webs of your fingers should touch. (Placing your hand above someone else’s asserts that you’re in control of them.)

6. Business meetings are about getting down to business, so stick with two “hand pumps” only. If it’s a social scenario, shoot for three “hand pumps.”

7. Air kisses are always right cheek to right cheek. NYC and Manila do one kiss and everywhere else, two is standard. Whatever you do: make sure that there’s no lip and skin contact.


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

SOCIAL ETIQUETTE

8. Be cautious of speaking with your hands or cursing—both imply that you don’t have the correct verbiage to express yourself properly.

9. Say ‘excuse me’ instead of ‘pardon’ or ‘sorry.’ Pardon is used by service staff, and—let’s be real—you’re not sorry most of the time.

10. Don’t say ‘ladies first’ anymore. Contemporary etiquette is more gender-neutral.

11. Use the phrase ‘please enjoy,’ rather than ‘bon appetit.’ The latter is outdated.


12. If you’re a woman who wants to sit formally, knees and ankles must never part. Both heels must stay on the ground. You can, however, slant your legs like the Duchess of Windsor for comfort’s sake. Men can just sit up straight, because life isn’t fair.

13. Never put your elbows on the table, regardless of whether it’s a business or dining situation. Resting your forearms on the table is just fine.

14. For every minute that you’re late, give the person you’re meeting two minutes of advance notice. If you’re running ten minutes late, for instance, inform the other party twenty minutes beforehand.

15. Don’t apologize profusely if you’re late. If you make it a big deal, it becomes a big deal.

DINING ETIQUETTE

16. Only service staff put fingers on top of saucers, bowls, and dinnerware. Everyone else places fingers below.


17. Coffee mug handles are to sit at 3:00. Spoons stir from 12 to 6, without making a clinking sound.

18. When pouring tea and coffee, hot liquid is always followed by cold.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

19. High tea is a meal. Afternoon tea is formal tea with proper tea settings, biscuits, scones and the like.


20. Discards like olive and cherry pits, bones, and tea bags go to the upper left of the plate. On that note, “how it goes in is how it comes out.” If an olive pit went in with your fingers take it out with said fingers. Sauces go to the bottom right of the plate.

21. Stay two hands width away from any table.

22. Upon sitting at a restaurant, put your napkin on your lap immediately. If you’re dining at a private home, wait until the host or hostess does so first before following suit. Make sure the crease is always facing you.

23. When wiping your mouth or a stain, make sure to dab at it with the interior of the napkin. This way, when you put the napkin back in your lap it won’t stain your bottoms.

24. Napkin in chair is a sign to service staff that you’re coming back. Pinch and place the napkin to the left of your plate as a signal to the service staff when you’re done with the meal.

25. Don’t announce that you’re going to the men’s or ladies room. Instead, say “excuse me.” No one wants to envision what you do when you leave their company.

Beaumont Etiquette is hosting a Dining with Dom Perignon Course on May 17th, which includes champagne and oysters, in addition to dining etiquette instruction. Find out more about other available courses here.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
About The Author
Sarah Solomon
View Other Articles From Sarah Solomon
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
In this Town & Country exclusive, Chris Messina shares his forecast for digital trends and how businesses can maximize their interactions with customers.
 
Share
Staffers tell us top contenders include David Wallace-Wells, Lauren Kern, and David Haskell.
 
Share
How much of a difference does 10 years really make?
 
Share
Mindfulness is buzzy, and now the Duke of Sussex has given it his stamp of approval.
 
Share
Famous faces include Thandie Newton, Michelle Williams, and Sophie Turner.
 
Share
The young royal seems to have a proclivity for the STEM fields.
 
Share
From romantic Parisian hotels that overlook the Seine to rustic accommodations in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
 
Share
Here's your first look at the lauded Sri Lankan seafood concept that has consistently ranked on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list.
 
Share
From the causes the royal couple chose to highlight to their tendency to run behind schedule, the day of engagements set the tone for a busy year ahead.
 
Share
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US