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Manners and knowledge of etiquette on display at conferences

Many believe civility means etiquette and manners. I consider them a small component. Stories from the eXtension conference last month--

Attentive and formal service
Setting: The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is elegant. Doormen and women open the hotel doors each time you enter or leave. The housekeepers’ attire is women in dresses with aprons and men in vests.

Formal meals
At each table women are always served before men. Plates are served on your left side, removed on your right. Even if you don’t know all the etiquette, you can pick up quite a bit by observation. The number of utensils and placement give you clues if there will be dessert and number of courses. They also should signal if you use your one fork and knife during the first course that you should keep it for the entrée.

As I watched several at my table being asked to retain their forks from the first course plate, I thought how the servers understood etiquette better than those they were serving. How do you keep the servers from having to ask if you’ve finished?

The etiquette
Place your knife and fork with handles at the 4 o'clock position and the tines of the fork down to signal to the server that you are done.

Informal meals
One evening I went to The Bluegrass Brewing Company with six men ages probably 25 to 60. Current residences: three from North Carolina and one each from Arkansas, Virginia and California. The waitresses served everyone except me. Time passed and still my main-course salad was not in sight.

The etiquette
Do not start eating until every person is served or those who have not been served request that you begin without waiting.

I asked them to please begin eating. One of the youngest from North Carolina set the tone, “Our mothers didn’t teach us that way. We don’t eat until everyone is served.” A salute to mothers and all others who teach etiquette. And to those who learn on their own.

You are more comfortable in any setting when manners are second-nature.

Questions and answers about table manners from Manners International

The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky

Etiquette, one aspect of decorum, is a code that governs the expectations of social behavior, according to the contemporary conventional norm within a society, social class or group.

Manners are standards of conduct which show the person to be cultured, polite and refined.


Great post! I only hope that my boys can remember their manners when in such situations in the future - or maybe they could remember their manners now (just for practice and to let me know they are listening!) :-)