Even in today’s fast and ever changing lifestyle, there is one very simple skill which if we don’t already possess, can easily be learned that is guaranteed to get you through even the most trying social occasion – good manners! Yes, something as simple as politeness and good manners will make up ten fold for any lack of etiquette know-how.
- And if you are not sure if your manners are good enough, pick a role model and compare your behavior with them. This could be someone well known on screen or television, or perhaps a friend, colleague or business associate. Pay attention to how they behave around other people. Learn from them!
- Learn to be confident in yourself. Unease and nervousness in social occasions will undoubtedly make you feel uncomfortable and thus more prone to unnatural behavior. A good tip before any important occasion is to go somewhere quiet on your own and sit or preferably, lay down. Close you eyes – and relax by taking long, slow, deep breaths. Then in your imagination, see yourself at that social event looking calm and confident. Imagine yourself interacting comfortably with other guests – you are a total success! Feel the experience – really let it sink in. This type of mental programming will assist you tremendously.
- As host or dinner guest, never allow yourself to be persuaded into believing that the more you spend, the greater the impression you will make! That may be true in certain (frivolous!) circles of society, but it is generally not so, and it is certainly quite unnecessary. Spend only that which you can comfortably afford.
- We hear a great deal about rules of etiquette, as though they were written in stone somewhere, or part of the Constitution! What is acceptable to one person or one society may be totally unacceptable to another. If you must live by rules, then develop your own list of rules! Rules of etiquette steeped in history and tradition have very little real relevance in today’s society.
- Some folk firmly believe that unless you come from a background of substantial wealth and a particular upbringing, then you are automatically excluded from certain social choices. This is completely, and utterly, ridiculous! In my profession, I have performed the role of Butler at numerous very grand and formal social occasions for the wealthy and upper classes. And I do not exaggerate when I say that on occasions, the behavior of some of those attending was truly appalling. Social background, education and wealth are no guarantees of good manners and proper behavior!
- Often a dinner host or hostess believes that the more complex the menu, the more extravagant the occasion, the more elaborate the table setting ……the more he or she will impress the guests! That is far from the reality! A simple yet stylish, well executed dinner party delivered with thought, care and attention, will achieve a far greater result……..for a lot less stress!
- Dress code? Just as there are no rules in modern day entertaining, there is also…..no dress code! However, if it’s a formal affair and the host has clearly indicated a dress style (black tie, lounge suits, smart casual etc) then clearly, the dinner guest should respect that. As a host, however, do consider carefully whether such a stipulation is really necessary. The trend these days is very much towards casual dining and generally speaking, most dinner guests will be more relaxed in that situation.
- Most of all be pleasant. No one wants to have a dinner guest that keeps dragging the conversation down.