As an image and etiquette consultant, I am often asked to do corporate and group workshops, on the topics of dining etiquette and table manners.
A long time ago etiquette and table manners were established as a way of keeping the peace and domesticating our behaviour. Over time, these rituals were handed down from generation to generation eventually becoming tradition.
However, as the guest, the most important way to conduct yourself at the dining table is not always the way it is described in the etiquette books. And in most cases, manners and politeness will always override the rules. When in doubt, ‘show respect to your host’ and ‘follow their lead’. With this in mind, you will be the perfect dinner party guest.
- Don’t chew with your mouth open
- Don’t pick your teeth at the table. If something gets stuck in your teeth, excuse yourself and go to the restroom.
- Don’t talk with food in your mouth.
- Don’t reach across the table or across another person to get something. Ask the closest diner to pass it.
- Don’t put your elbows on the table until the meal is finished and all the plates and cutlery are removed.
- Don’t leave your hat on your head, while at the dining table.
Wear shiny finishes on areas of your body that you want to accentuate and appear bigger
Been shopping lately? If so you may have noticed that animal print fabric is everywhere. Personally, I really like it. It’s fun and comes across mischievous and playful. And this season, whether you want to look like a fox, a cat, a tiger or any other animal, it’s out there. But is work the best time to come across this way? OK, yes, it’s good to enjoy your time at work. However, the way you dress may be perceived as sending mixed messages. How do you look playful and come across serious at the same time? When dressing for the purpose of work this can be a challenge. My suggestions?
- If possible, keep animal print for social occasions.
- If you work in an environment that encourages a playful approach, but you still need to look like you are capable and are there to do your job, wear subtle versions of animal print. This can be done with low colour contrast, worn in small areas or by choosing non-descript versions.
Wearing cool colours will make that area of your body appear smaller
I love black! It is mysterious, chic and intriguing. And it is the perfect colour to wear any time you want to look dramatic, especially in a social setting. But is it a good colour to wear to work? The answer is… it depends on what message you want to convey.
Black being the darkest colour is also the most authoritative colour. If you want to come across commanding and have others follow direction that you give without question, black is definitely your colour. However, that might not always work in your favour. What about those occasions when you are trying to create rapport and you want interaction? Looking authoritative can be good, but in this situation it might be over-kill. Because black is such an authoritative colour, it can also be very intimating.
If you like black but still want interaction with others here are my suggestions:
- When interacting with clients or subordinates break up the black. Instead of dressing in head to toe black, wear black dress pants and a coordinating jacket in a different colour or the other way around.
- Keep the black suit for those times when you are interacting with others in top leadership positions.
- If you want to come across authoritative but a little more approachable, try navy instead. In navy you will still maintain an appropriate level or authority and others will trust that you can do the job. However, because blue is the colour of trust, others will trust that they can open up and ask questions.
Most companies spend a lot of money each year developing and maintaining their company image. As a representative of your company it’s up to you to reinforce this image by presenting yourself in a way that’s consistent with the company brand. Let’s face it, when we meet someone for the first time, whether we like it or not, we instantly form an impression about them. If the impression matches what they are trying to communicate, we are more likely to trust them. Once trust is established, it’s easier to build rapport and strong business relationships.
If you are on a limited budget always consider whether that accessory you are considering for your next purchase is a ‘fad’ or fashion’?
Fad items appear every season. They are fun and can instantly update a wardrobe… But ask yourself “How much does it cost?” In addition, “Can I afford to throw or store it away in just one year?”
A ‘fad’ is here today and gone tomorrow; even though fashions change over time, the change is much slower and more subtle. A ‘fashion’ can become a true investment.