Tips from Real Life 101

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Posts Tagged ‘etiquette

Common Etiquette Mistakes

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The Real Life 101 team agrees that proper etiquette is an important aspect of every day life. We asked our etiquette expert, Jennifer Indyk, to share some of the most common mistakes she sees.   Here were her thoughts:

Many people make introductions in the wrong order:

  • The person of greater authority is mentioned first: “Mrs. President, may I present Mr. Vice President.”
  • Introductions should be done immediately and by whomever knows both parties.
  • When being introduced, offer right hand immediately for a handshake, make eye contact, smile and say something like “It’s nice to meet you” or “How do you do?”

It is a mistake to not leave your phone number on a voice mail message because you just know the other person has it.

Do not show up late to an appointment.  Be on time; arriving late shows a lack of respect.

At the table, it is important to understand which place setting is yours.

  • Your glassware will be on your right and your bread plate on your left.
  • Your fork will be on your left and spoon on the right.

Use cutlery with care.

  • Hold cutlery with fingers; not fists.
  • Do not gesture with your cutlery.
  • Once you pick up a piece of cutlery, it should never touch the table again.

Napkin use:

  • Do not tuck the napkin into shirt.
  • The napkin goes on your lap as soon as you sit down.
  • Dab the corners of your mouth with the napkin.

It is a mistake to pass the salt or pepper alone.

  • Always pass the two together, even if someone requests you to pass only one.
  • Just place both in front of the person requesting them.

Buttering Bread:

  • Do not take the butter directly from the dish and place it on your bread.
  • Rather, place a pat of butter on your bread plate first; then spread it on the bread.
  • Bread is to be torn, not cut.  Tear off a piece of a roll, butter and then eat, one piece at a time.

Do not put anything on table; this includes a cell phone or PDA.

Always pass food to the right.

Do not push away or stack your dishes.

Never blow on liquid to cool it.

Elbows are not permitted on the table when there is food on the table.

Remember these guidelines to avoid confusion and embarrassment when it really matters.

Tipping Etiquette 101

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One of my favorite restaurants suggests in bold letters at the bottom of their menu “18% gratuity is appropriate and recommended.” With restaurants suggesting how much to tip before you even place an order, appropriate tipping etiquette may be confusing. When do you leave a generous tip? Is it ever acceptable to leave no tip at all? We’ve created a little cheat sheet of the modern guidelines when it comes to gratuities and tipping etiquette.
Restaurant Dining: Tipping used to show an individual’s appreciation for exceptional service. Restaurants now factor in tips as a way to lower wages, and therefore it is customary to leave:

  • 15% gratuity for average service.
  • 20% is recommended for exceptional service. 
  • 10% gratuity is appropriate for less-than-mediocre service. 

It is never appropriate to leave a nickel or dime out of spite, and the manager should be confronted privately if the service does not deserve even 10% gratuity.
Tip Jars: Many small establishments, such as coffee bars and ice cream shops, have a tip jar next to the register. Because these tips are shared between all employees, it is not necessary or expected to leave a tip.

  • Frequent patrons should drop in a few bucks from time to time. 
  •  This guideline can be applied to bar service as well. 

Private Parties: It is not recommended to tip servers or bartenders at private parties, unless the server has provided extraordinary service.

  • Etiquette experts suggest a small tip of appreciation in special circumstances, such as help when you spill on your shirtfront.

There are a few other situations when it is customary to leave a small tip:

  • Valet parker: $2-$5
  • Doorman: $5 for hailing a cab (more generous tips are recommended around the holidays for doormen you encounter regularly)
  • Coat check clerk: $1-$2
  • Hairdressers, barbers, manicurists, etc.: 10% of total bill (more is recommended during the holiday season)
  • Taxi driver: 15% of total bill
  • Skycaps at airport: $1-$2 per bag
  • Grocery loaders: $1-$3 depending on the number of grocery bags

Sources: How to be a Gentleman, John Bridges
Essential Manners, Peter Post