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When eating with others there are a few common courtesies to follow. Hopefully, the restaurant staff will bring out the meals together. If you are in a large group, there may be a little delay between the arrival of the first meal and the last one. Do not just hoe into your meal the moment it arrives. Wait for every guest to have his or her meal before starting.
Do not be so engrossed in your meal that you forget to talk to the other guests. In particular, do not have any distractions on the table. It is especially uncomfortable for others if you are texting or talking on your cell phone rather than paying attention to those around you. People around you will feel that you do not value them. Switch your phone off and leave it in your pocket or bag. It is unacceptable to have your phone on the table, even upside down. Trust PD that you will survive not checking your phone for a couple of hours. You may even surprise yourself as to the quality of conversation that you are having and the friendships that you are forging or strengthening.
If you finish your meal before others, continue giving them attention. If you feel that you need to be doing something, sip some water while the others are finishing their meals.
Eventually, the food will have been eaten and the bill paid, and it will be time to depart. Make this friendly, and thank the restaurant staff and the host or organiser of the dinner.
If it is late and you worried about someone’s safety, offer to walk him or her to his or her car, and make sure that he or she is safely inside his or her car and driving off before going to your own car.
One or two days later you can thank the host organiser. The nicest way of doing this is to send a handwritten thank you card, however most people today will send an email or text message.
NEXT ISSUE: PD Manners 2: At work. Get along better with your work colleagues and maybe help yourself to get promoted!