Posture at the Table and Excusing Yourself

August 20, 2014  |     |   0 Comment

Business lunch restaurant people eating mealMy blog focus for the month of August is all about etiquette surrounding what I love most – food, wine and dining!

Everything I needed to know about table manners, I learned when I was a child.  While the rules of etiquette change and evolve over time, the basics still hold true. Two of the most important things to remember at the dining table that will never go out of style are proper posture and excusing yourself.

Tips for Proper Posture at the Table:

  • Sit straight, but not stiffly, against the back of the chair and rest both feet flat on the floor.
  • Elbows should be kept close to your sides when eating; move them forward and backward to convey food to the mouth and to manipulate the utensils.
  • Elbows or forearms are never placed on the table.
  • In the American style of eating, place one hand on the lap and rest the wrist of the other hand on the table’s edge with the hand extending over the table top.
  • In the American style of eating, you can also rest both hands on your lap.
  • In the Continental style of eating, rest the hands on the table from the wrist up.

Tips for Properly Excusing Yourself from the Table:

  • If you need to leave the table during a meal, whether at home or at a social/business event, simply say in a quiet voice, “Please excuse me.” It is not necessary to say where you are going.
  • When you excuse yourself from the table, push your chair back from the table and exit the chair from the right side of the chair; this is also the same side from which you enter your chair.
  • Leave your napkin on the seat of your chair and then push your chair back under the table.
  • A sudden cough or sneeze is handled by turning your head toward your shoulder and covering your hand and nose with a handkerchief or tissue if you have one; if not, use your napkin as a shield.  Quietly say, “Please excuse me.”
  • In many cultures, blowing your nose at the table is offensive; it is a bodily function and should be done away from the table.
  • In an emergency, one may discreetly wipe one’s nose using a tissue or handkerchief while at the table – never use a napkin.

Do you have an important business meeting coming up that is taking place over a meal? Want to brush up on your dining etiquette skills? Please contact me to learn about my personal consultation services and how I can help you; or for a complimentary half-hour consultation: or 613-321-5159.

Erin Crotty is a certified and trained expert in Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol from the Protocol School of Washington.


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