Online Life & Career Skills Series 3: The Rules of Social & Dining Etiquette

The Online & Life Career Skills series held on Wednesday, 20th May 2020, titled “The Rules of Social & Dining Etiquette” was certainly one not to be missed!

Mr. Lawrence Chan (Chief Experience Officer, BAC Education Group), speaker for the day, covered key components of social etiquette, in particular, the daily rules of etiquette and dining etiquette.

“If you look up the word ‘etiquette’ in a dictionary, it simply means ‘the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group”, he said.

This was followed by an elaboration of important points on appearance for casual and formal occasions – “for men, get a decent haircut and groom your hair, for ladies – have your hair well styled; own a good pair of business shoes, a decent pair of trousers, jeans (no holes or faded) and dress smartly.”

As for weekend and formal wear, “for the weekend, a round necked T-shirt or polo T-shirt paired with ‘Bermuda’ shorts or jeans would be appropriate while a tuxedo (for ‘Black tie’ functions) and even batik wear is acceptable”, he added.

Non-verbal communication such as style of clothes, grooming, facial expression, posture & mannerisms are equally important in making a good first impression – “make and maintain eye contact (don’t stare); raising the eyebrows for a few seconds when you catch someone’s eye (the eyebrow flash) is friendly and reassuring”. To maintain good posture that exudes confidence “stand up straight, square your shoulders, push out your chest, walk in small strides, lift your feet and keep your head upright”, he stressed.

As to the daily rules of etiquette – “if there is another person at the other side of the door, let them pass through first. In lifts and trains, always put your sling bags or backpacks in front of you to avoid discomfort those near you, especially in a crowded lift or train. Be mindful and respect personal space”.

The much-anticipated portion of the session on dining etiquette was informative with presentation slides for ease of reference on various cutleries and glassware used in an informal Western meal and formal six course meal.

“If you are confused which cutlery to use, follow the outside-in rule. Always place the napkin on your lap and don’t tuck it into your collar”.

Towards the end of the session, the speaker broke down some simple rules on drinks served at social occasions –“white wine is served with seafood; red wine is served with the main course – such as beef or lamb, and brandy is served after dessert when coffee and cigars are served. If you don’t consume alcohol you can always politely decline or request for a refill of drinking water”.

The session ended with a few examples of “eating and drinking crimes” strictly prohibited– “Slurping, burping and scrolling through your mobile phone at the table are absolute no-no’s. Use cutlery to bring food to your mouth, not your mouth to the food. At buffets, take only what you can eat, queue up and never dig or push around food in the serving dishes”.