Table Manners And Telling The Truth

Table manners and telling the truth. Learn how to properly tell a guest or host that they have food in their teeth, on their mouth or in their hair. Using good table manners is important when dining in a...

Using good table manners is important when dining in a business or social capacity. Even when all diners are properly displaying their well-groomed etiquette there can be awkward moments of embarrassment. Anticipating how to respond to a potential dilemma may alleviate feelings of anxiety or apprehension when dining with a job interviewer, your future in-laws, or an old school pal.


Gloria Starr, President of Global Success Strategies Inc., says, "We don't want someone to be embarrassed with food in their teeth or a piece of food on their mouth. But it's often difficult to say something unless you are sitting beside the person and you can quietly lean over and say a small particle of food is in your hair." Obviously you want to keep the matter discreet if possible and not make a spectacle out of the other person. Most likely the person is unaware of the etiquette breach and will greatly appreciate a cue to correct it. Starr adds, "If you are at the far end of the table, indicate with your napkin (where the problem lies) while you are looking at the person and he or she may catch it."


The person may have a bit of food on his or her teeth, in their hair, or on their clothing with is easily remedied once noticed by the individual.

What if you were the person who needed a signal? Wouldn't you be appreciative of a subtle gesture or comment? Most of us would be more embarrassed if our dining companion saw something they didn't bring up and we later discovered on our own after several strange looks from others in the meantime. Always be gentle, truthful, and concerned with your comments, as you would want others to be when alerting you of an awkward situation. Most people will respect your decision to spare them further humiliation and not be upset with you for speaking up.

Other faux pas you can learn to recognize and correct include finding unwanted items in your food, dealing with bad breath, unnoticed spills, and food getting stuck in your teeth. If you happen to find a hair, bone, bug, or any other unwanted object in your glass, salad, or on your plate, it is always advisable to quickly and quietly remove it with no fanfare. You should not alert everyone at your table to the problem. If the object warrants comment to prevent another occurrence, you may want to advise the waiter once you have left the table.

Some foods have a tendency to leave you with bad breath after eating them. Don't feel like you have to forego ordering the onions on your sandwich or garlic bread with your pasta for fear of the after effects they may leave in the air. To eliminate the chances of offending others with breath odors you may want to use a breath mint, chew and swallow some fresh parsley, brush your teeth after the meal, take an antacid, use lemon to coat your tongue and inside your mouth, or use a commercial breath spray. Depending on the amounts of pungent foods you have eaten you may find relief with these options to camouflage any offensive odors.

There are times when foods or liquids are accidentally spilled and present an uncomfortable situation. If you spill your drink down your shirt or in your lap, you can try to blot the spill with your napkin and hope others don't notice. Should the spill leave a significant spot you may want to excuse yourself and try to clean it up and dry it off in the nearest restroom. If you are eating a food that you notice is becoming trapped in your teeth such as some meat or part of your salad, don't panic. You can try drinking some water to wash the item out or run your tongue around the area discreetly to dislodge the item. It is not appropriate to pick at your teeth with your fingers or a toothpick while still at the table. If needed you may ask to be excused to the restroom to take care of the matter.

Eating out with others should be enjoyable without the risk of fretting over little things that can happen to any of us at times. If you follow etiquette protocol and show respect to those around you, little glitches should not mar the meal or the conversation.

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