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10 Table Manners Mistakes You Should Stop Doing

Learn how to gracefully navigate the trickier points of dining etiquette with ease.

If you’re dining with friends, family, or colleagues, mastering proper etiquette is essential for making a positive impression. Observing proper etiquette can boost your self-confidence in social settings by providing guidelines for navigating various dining situations with ease. Let us find some set of rules that can help build positive relationships and leave a lasting impression on others.

Why are table manners important?

Table manners are not just a set of arbitrary rules; they play a crucial role in social interactions. Proper etiquette at the table shows respect for others and enhances the overall dining experience.

When you exhibit good table manners, you demonstrate your consideration for those around you and create a more pleasant atmosphere.

Table manners reflect your upbringing and level of sophistication, making them an essential aspect of personal presentation.

Why do we teach table manners?

Teaching table manners goes beyond just knowing which fork to use or how to hold a glass. It’s about instilling respect, consideration, and social skills in individuals from a young age. By teaching proper table etiquette, we are equipping people with valuable life skills that extend far beyond the dining table.


Table manners play a crucial role in shaping one’s character and personality. They reflect our upbringing, cultural values, and level of respect for others. The way we conduct ourselves at the table speaks volumes about our overall demeanor and social awareness.

Practicing good table manners promotes harmony and pleasant interactions during meals. It creates a conducive environment for meaningful conversations and enjoyable dining experiences.

10 table manners mistakes

Have you ever found yourself at a dinner table unsure of what to do with your napkin? Or perhaps you’ve accidentally reached across someone’s plate for the salt shaker, not realizing it’s a table manners faux pas.

1. The act of passing food in the wrong direction

It is essential to pass dishes counterclockwise if multiple dishes are to be shared. The exception is if the person who has requested a dish is seated just one or two places to your left: it makes no sense to send the potatoes around the table just so you can say you’ve followed the law.

2. Cut your food into bite-sized pieces all at once

Getting the slicing and dicing out of the way may be tempting, but it’s better to take your meal one bite at a time. If you’re helping a young child at the table, you can cut up their food at the beginning.

3. Misplacement of used utensils

When using utensils, remember to start at the outside and work your way in towards the plate. However, when taking a break or finishing your meal, there are two commonly used resting positions for your silverware.

The first is continental style, where you place the fork and knife in an inverted V shape at the center of your plate (knife on bottom, fork tines up). Alternatively, you can use American style and place the knife diagonally on the top right of your plate with the fork on the plate, tines up.

Once you’re done with your meal, simply put the fork and knife diagonally on the plate (handles at 4 o’clock, tips at 10) with either tines facing up or down for the fork and blade facing in for the knife.

4. Leave your napkin on the table

There’s some contention around the Great Napkin Debate. Most experts agree on placing your napkin neatly to the left of your plate at the end of a meal.

However, opinions differ when it comes to leaving the table mid-meal. Some argue for placing the napkin on the table to avoid making a mess on the chair and spreading germs.

On the other hand, some suggest sticking with consistency and placing it on the left side of your plate at the end of the meal. While we understand both perspectives, we ultimately side with Team Table.

5. Not following your host’s instructions

You should follow the directions of your host when following proper etiquette takes a backseat. For instance, if your host sends the plates clockwise rather than counterclockwise, you should pass them accordingly. It is far more gracious (and shows far better manners!) to humor your host rather than insist on doing something the “proper” way.

6. Seating arrangements shouldn’t be changed

If attending a formal dinner or your family’s traditions dictate seating arrangements, accept your position around the table with grace. Even if you do not like where the host has placed your name card, it is impolite to complain or insist on sitting next to someone else during dinner.

7. Dinner without phones

When you are a guest at a dinner party, you should not leave your phone ringing at a high volume. Looking at your phone or keeping your cell on the table indicates that you would rather be somewhere else.

There are exceptions if you are on call or have to be available in case of an emergency, but if you just use your phone to glance at the time or check the occasional email or text, you should leave it off and away.

8. Don’t start eating before the host sits down

Wait until the host sits down before beginning to eat. This shows respect and acknowledges their role in hosting the event. However, there are exceptions to this rule. At buffet-style gatherings or barbecues, the atmosphere is more casual, and guests are often encouraged to help themselves and eat whenever they want.

In these settings, it is perfectly acceptable to start eating without waiting for the host to be seated. Understanding these nuances helps navigate different dining situations with grace and etiquette.

9. When leaving the table, properly excuse yourself

It is best to minimize the number of times you get up during a sit-down dinner. Take care of any personal needs before the meal starts so that you can fully enjoy your host’s cooking without disruptions. In case you do need to leave, politely excuse yourself and step to the right of your chair.

(Don’t forget to place your napkin in one of the two designated spots). Upon returning, sit on the same side as when you exited (right side of the chair).

10. Don’t ignore or interrupt others

While sharing a meal around a table, everyone should participate in the conversation. When you are seated at a large party, smaller conversations may break out among people sitting close together, so do not ignore the people you are seated with to shout across the table. Make eye contact and smile when conversing with people. You should never interrupt anyone who is speaking.


Have questions about table manners? We’ve got you covered with some commonly asked FAQs:

1. Can I use my phone at the dinner table?
It’s best to avoid using your phone during meals to show respect for those around you and fully engage in conversation.

2. Is it okay to start eating before everyone is served?
Wait until everyone has their food before starting to eat, as it shows consideration for others at the table.

3. What should I do if I accidentally spill something?
Apologize, offer to help clean up, and try not to make a big deal out of it – accidents happen!

4. Should I chew with my mouth open or closed?
Always remember to chew with your mouth closed; no one wants to see (or hear) what’s going on in there!

5. How can I politely decline food that I don’t like?
Simply say “No thank you” or politely explain that you’re not a fan of that particular dish – there’s no need to elaborate further.


Small gestures can make a significant difference in how you are perceived by those around you. By avoiding common table manners mistakes, you demonstrate consideration for others and exhibit polished behavior that reflects positively on your character.

Your efforts will not go unnoticed, as practicing good etiquette shows that you value those around you and care about making memorable experiences out of shared meals.

Also read: 6 foods that raise cancer risk and 6 that lowers it

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