Keep it Classy: Avoid these Behaviors

Dining don'ts with etiquette expert Suzanne Willis.

I was at an event recently and was dismayed when the gentleman I was talking to sucked the food off all four fingers off all four fingers on his right hand. A few moments later, he burped. It was a light burp, but it was certainly a burp. There was no apology. He just kept on talking and eating and licking his fingers. We weren’t at a bar or a BBQ. This was a meeting of professionals. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I’m sure that no one reading this needs a reminder of what is simply rude and gross. But just in case you know someone who needs a refresher, you may be able to slip a copy of this article on his or her desk. (Shhhh! I won’t tell if you won’t.)

Here’s a list of gross things that should never be done at a business meeting, a dinner table, or anywhere other than in the privacy of your home (alone).

1. Never blow your nose into a cloth napkin (especially at a restaurant) unless it is your own and you are taking it home with you. 

2. Never suck your fingers.

3. Never use your fork to scratch your back.

4. Never use your knife to see if you have food in between your teeth.

5. Never use anything, while at the table, to pick food from your teeth.

6. Do not chew food with your mouth open.

7. Do not use your tongue to suck food between your teeth.

8. Do not double dip.

9. Do not burp or make any inelegant noises. Everything at the table should be done quietly to not distract from the conversation and enjoyment of the meal. 

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette.