NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In the back of her book, “Social Skills Survival Guide,” June Hines Moore answers questions frequently asked about etiquette. Here are a few.
Q. What does tip stand for?
A. It is an acronym for “To Insure Promptness.”
Q. When dishes are passed around a dining table, which direction should they go?
A. Serving dishes should be passed counterclockwise, or from left to right. It is less awkward to help yourself from your left side.
Q. Is it all right to push my plate away to show that I am through eating?
A. No. The signal of your flatware in a parallel position across the plate lets everyone know you are finished.
Q. When you are offered coffee after dinner, is it all right to ask if it is decaffeinated?
A. Yes. But don’t ask for another type of beverage such as tea unless it is offered.
Q. Should I refold my napkin when I finish eating?
A. No. Lay it flat as you put it on the table beside your place setting after your hostess has placed her napkin on the table signaling that the meal is over.
Q. How do I know which glass is the water glass when there are several glasses above my knives?
A. The water glass is always the one on the inside nearest the center of your place setting.
Q. When I sit down to an array of flatware, how do I know what to choose first?
A. You always begin from the outside and move inward. If soup is the first course, there will be a soup spoon on the far right of your place setting.
Q. What should I do if I see someone approaching whom I should introduce, but I can’t remember his or her name?
A. First, you should not plan to ignore the effort to make the introduction. There are several things you can try to refresh your memory of the forgotten name. 1) You can reintroduce yourself as the person approaches you, hoping the other person will reintroduce himself or herself. 2) You can look at the person who just approached and say, “I’d like you to meet Bob Larson” and hope the new person will state his name. 3) If all else fails, simply admit that your mind has gone blank and ask the person to give you the name again. Doing so is far kinder than ignoring the introduction.
Q. What can I do to keep someone from giving me the “fish” handshake?
A. Few things are more uncomfortable than a limp handshake. To prevent one, grasp the other person’s hand with strength and vigor. You can even press down with your thumb, hoping to encourage a better handshake.
Q. Is it proper to correct my name when I am incorrectly introduced?
A. Yes, wait until the introduction is finished and then say, “It’s John.”
Q. How close is too close when you stand to talk with someone? I’m uncomfortable standing close to someone face to face.
A. The distance between two people should be about 18 inches or an arm’s length away.
Q. What do I do if I am talking to one person and another person walks up and stands nearby?
A. Unless you are in a private conversation, by all means acknowledge the new person and include him in the conversation. If your discussion is truly private, perhaps you should move to a private location.
Q. What about calling people “Honey” or “Sweetheart” in the office?
A. In business, do not use pet or endearing names for either women or men to avoid harassment charges, according to the Institute of Business Management in Washington.
Q. Should I tell a coworker he has bad breath?
A. Only if you know him very well. Otherwise, the kindest thing to do is to speak to the supervisor who performs the annual evaluation of that employee and let him or her talk with the person about it.
Q. When entering or leaving an elevator, do men stand aside and let the women go first?
A. The person, male or female, closest to the door enters first and holds the door for those following. Upon exiting a crowded elevator, those directly in front of the door get off first and make sure the door does not close on someone following.
GENERAL ETIQUETT QUESTIONS
Q. What is the Golden Rule of business?
A. The Golden Rule is the same in any setting. It states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It comes from the Bible and is the guiding principle for comfortable living in our society.
Q. What is the Platinum Rule?
A. “Do unto others as they would like done unto them.” In other words, consider the personality of the other person. If she is shy and retiring and you are aggressive, don’t rush up to her and knock her over with your enthusiasm because that is not what she would like done to her.