How to Signal to the Waitstaff That You are Done Eating


Fork and knife placement signaling the end of the meal – American style.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea had the rare pleasure of dining out this past weekend with a dear friend. We went to a local Italian restaurant, of the mid-range variety, nothing fancy.

This friend had plenty to talk about, and we were settling into a wonderful conversation as the courses began to arrive, but began to become annoyed by the constant interruption of the server. It seemed whenever we paused and put down our forks, and even while we were eating,  someone came over to grab the plate away–even though we obviously were not finished.

At first, the servers reached down to grab the plates and began to remove them without asking. We had to grab our plates back as they swooped past. After a few times of this, they at least began to ask if we were done yet. In addition, at two times, the managers stopped by our table to see how things were going. They too, grabbed at our plates.

At first, we laughed about the constant interruptions. Then they began to irritate us. What then should have been an enjoyable time out together, was spoiled. We took the rest of our meals to go. Continue reading

Socially Speaking about Politics

talking-politicsHere in America you can’t get away from talk about politics. It’s everywhere: on the media, in the workplace, and around the dinner table. 2016 is a highly-charged election year.

All this talk about politics, however, leads Miss Meredith Sweetpea to consider the social rule that politics is one of those subjects not to be discussed in polite social conversation. So how do we talk about it…if we must? Here are several rules to keep in mind:

  1. Keep the conversation light. Don’t get into heavy discussions about whose opinion is right or wrong, or let the conversation escalate into a confrontation.
  2. Respect other people’s opinions. People look at issues through their own backgrounds, experiences and filters, which are always different than your own. Listen respectfully to their opinions and ask why they feel the way they do. It is always enlightening to hear how differently others view the same situations.
  3. Don’t accuse anyone. Just because you are adamant about your own viewpoint doesn’t mean that other people’s views are wrong. Don’t tell them they should feel or think (or vote) the way you do. They are allowed their own choices.
  4. Change the subject. If you are engaging in a lovely dinner party and talk of politics arises, politely change the subject to something more pleasant, like the taste of the butternut squash soup.

In years like this, you simply cannot avoid talking about politics. What you can do is control how and when you do.



To Button or Not to Button a Men’s Jacket

Poised-for-Success-Jacqueline-Whitmore-book-imageMiss Meredith Sweetpea was at a fancy dinner and noticed a disparity amongst the men at her table. Some men buttoned their jacket when they stood, and some did not.

To answer the question, “which is correct,” I referred to leading etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore’s book, Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities that Distinguish Outstanding Professionals. In it, she writes:

“In my Dress for Success seminars, men often ask if they should button up their jackets whenever they stand up, and the answer is “yes.” The jacket should button comfortably without pulling in front (which, unfortunately, can make a stout man appear as if he’s wearing a sausage casing), but when the jacket is a good fit, the look adds polish and panache. Regardless of whether you’re wearing a two- or three-button suit, remember to leave the bottom button unbuttoned.”

Thank you, Jacqueline, for your buttoned-up advice!

Eating Through the Interview | Meredith Sweetpea | Business Etiquette

interview-lunchGood heavens! Miss Meredith Sweetpea has had the unfortunate circumstance of noticing a number of job interviews taking place over lunch. Unfortunate in that she witnessed the most boorish of behaviors!

A job interview held over lunch is not the time to be casual. Your dining habits and your professional skills are being analyzed to see if you are a good fit AND a good representative of the organization. Manners do count.

In one circumstance, Miss Meredith witnessed a gentleman tipping his chair back onto its back legs, picking his teeth with his fingers, and eating with his elbows on the table. After finishing, he stacked his dishes and shoved them to the side.

In another, she saw a gentleman stuffing an entire piece of food into his mouth, when it clearly should have been cut into smaller pieces. Not only did he stuff it with his fork, he then used his fingers to shove the entire piece inside his already-overstuffed maw when it became clear that the fork would not do the trick. And then he tried to talk! My word, what a sight!

In both circumstances, I wonder if the candidate got the job.

Here are some quick rules to eating during a job interview:

How to Ace a Job Interview Lunch

1. Follow what the leader is doing.

If you don’t know what to do, follow what the leader is doing. See what silverware he uses for each course and follow suit, and order what she’s ordering, or something similar. Don’t order the most expensive item on the menu or you’ll be though of as taking a free ride. The exception is if you witness the leader demonstrating bad manners. Do not copy those, but rather, Continue reading

Work Hard and Play Nice | Business Etiquette

Man drinking from coffeepotWe all want to have respect in the business world, whether it’s from our bosses, our clients or our co-workers.  Without respect, work can be a mightily miserable place.

So here are a few guidelines for basic office etiquette that will make everybody’s day a little bit brighter.

  • Respect the privacy and boundaries of your co-workers. Do not read their email or office memos.
  • Make new employees feel welcome and comfortable.
  • Do not give Continue reading

Hugs and Kisses in the Workplace | Business Etiquette

Since February is the month for love, it brings to mind the issue of hugs and kisses in the workplace.  Are they proper or not?

Meredith Sweetpea consulted Emily Post’s The Etiquette Advantage in Business, by Peggy Post and Peter Post to find out. Here is what they say:

Hugs and Kisses

In the entertainment and fashion fields, greeting with hugs and kisses is positivly de rigueur.

But in more traditional business settings, greetings should be less dominstrative, with kissing and hugging generally avoided.

In some cases, business associates who have not seen each other in a long time may feel a hug or a kiss on the cheek is in order, but they should be discreet or avoid such greetings entirely. Another consideration: No matter what profession you’re in, avoid close contact with another person when you are ill. It’s more welcoming to tell someone you have a cold and keep your distance than to risk infecting him or her.

Hugs and kisses in greetings usually take these five forms:


Kisses on the cheek are Continue reading

Office Party Etiquette | Manners & Etiquette

Hooray!  It’s time for the holiday office party!

Although we want to let loose and celebrate, it is often not a good idea to do so at a work party. In today’s volatile economy, it is all the more important to remember that even after hours, our behavior can reflect either well or badly on us and alter our higher-ups’ opinions of us for the better…or worse.

Quick Rules for Office Holiday Party Etiquette

  • Arrive on time and don’t linger past the end time.
  • Is your spouse invited? Sometimes the office party is held just for the employees. Don’t bring an uninvited guest. Check in advance to avoid embarrassment.
  • Dress appropriately. This is not the time for the lowest-cut gown in your closet or to dress like you’re going to a nightclub. Nothing too short or revealing, please. Check the dress code in advance.
  • Don’t skip the holiday party, it can be important for your career and your absence can negatively affect it.
  • Remember your manners at the buffet. Don’t be a piggie and load up your plate. You can always go back for seconds. And no double dipping!
  • Drink, but do it in moderation. There is nothing worse than your drunk co-worker shouting out your office secrets across the table.
  • If there is an activity planned, participate. It shows you are a team player.
  • Goodness gracious, don’t do anything that will make you the topic of next year’s “remember when…”
  • Be sure to speak to people other than those with whom you directly work. It’s a lot more fun to mingle and talk to people you don’t see all the time.  This may also be the only time of year you see the Company President or CEO. Introduce yourself, shake hands, and wish them a happy holiday.
  • It might be a good move to talk with those who can influence your career. But keep the conversation light, and not about business.
  • In general,don’t talk about business or yourself and your accomplishments, or monopolize the conversation or you’ll be considered a bore.
  • Don’t assume that everyone celebrates the same holiday you do. Be considerate of their faiths, beliefs and customs.
  • Go in on the group gift for the boss, if you are asked. No gag gifts, please!!!
  • Speaking of gifts, the company party is not the time to give your favorite co-workers their gifts. Do that in private.
  • Sometimes toasts are given to celebrate an event or an honor. If the toast is for you, accept it graciously and don’t drink to yourself. Toast back to the person who recognized you, recognizing him or her.
  • Don’t flirt, kiss or grab your co-workers, or do anything you wouldn’t do at the office. This is a work event.
  • Most importantly, act like you’re having fun.  A lot of people went through a lot of trouble to throw this festive event, and they don’t have to do it. It is meant to be a present for the employees. Be gracious.
  • As you leave, be sure to thank your host for a lovely evening.
  • Send a thank you note to the party’s hosts, and that can include the party’s planner as well as the one footing the bill. Yes, we do this even at work.
%d bloggers like this: