Test Your Knowledge on Etiquette

In my years as an etiquette consultant and trainer. I have received all manner of questions regarding etiquette. Some were complex, and others extremely basic.

Now just to clarify, there is no question too basic that it need not be asked. So I find myself wondering just how aware people are of basic etiquette do’s and dont’s.

Here are some of the ones I’m asked most often. You can test your own knowledge of etiquette by going through this list and answering the following questions:

  1. If I am at a private home and I break something, should I offer to replace it?
    • Yes, you should. However if the host tells you not to worry about it, you should listen, apologise and not constantly bring it up.
  2. Is it okay to eat chicken wings with my fingers?
    • Absolutely! Although, if you are on a business lunch or dinner, you might want to avoid foods that are challenging to eat.
  3. If someone accidentally uses your bread plate at a dinner, should you ask the waiter for another one?
    • Firstly, it’s never polite to point out someone’s mistake. If this happens just ask the waiter calmly for another one without creating a spectacle of it.
  4. Is it okay to take my seat if I arrive late to a meeting or lecture?
    • Yes, it is perfectly fine. if the meeting stops, apologise for being delayed and settle in quickly.
  5. If an employee issue arises, should I handle it myself or ask a higher authority for help?
    • Depending on the situation, if it can be handled between the two employees, it should. However if that doesn’t solve the problem, it should be brought to a higher authority.
  6. How should I introduce my boss to a client?
    • Precedence dictates that the person with most seniority name is spoken first. However if it is a client, their name is always spoken first.
  7. How should I introduce a new colleague to my boss?
    • Your boss’s name is spoken first.
  8. In what hand should I hold my fork if I am left handed?
    • Whether you are right or left handed, etiquette dictates that you always hold your fork in your left hand. Always.
  9. When I introduce myself, should I give myself an honorific?
    • Never give yourself an honorific if you’re introducing yourself.
  10. Is my body language more important than what is coming out of my mouth?
    • They are both equally as important. You always want to ensure that your body language matches what is coming out of your mouth.
  11. Does being fashionably late depend on the type of event?
    • Good manners dictate that you should always be on time. Fashionably late is not polite.
  12. If you are eating messy spaghetti, is it okay to tuck your napkin into your shirt?
    • Not at all, the napkin always stays on your lap.
  13. Should a business meeting start with a handshake and end with a verbal goodbye only?
    • No. A business meeting should start and end with a handshake.
  14. When attending a cocktail event, is it okay to have more than 3 items of food on your plate?
    • Having more than three items on your side plate makes it difficult to hold your wine glass on your plate. It also comes across as glutinous. So, no, never more than three items.
  15. Is it good manners to arrive 20 minutes before the stated time for an event or occasion?
    • No, it isn’t. This may seem counter intuitive, as arriving early is always perceived as a good thing. But etiquette does not dictate that we arrive early, it dictates that we arrive on time. Arriving early could prove to be a problem if your host or business associate is not ready for you when you arrive. This can be just as rude as arriving late.
  16. It is okay to hold a wine glass around the bowl of the glass or around the stem?
    • Always around the stem.
  17. If a couple is walking along the sidewalk, which side should the man stand on?
    • As a rule of thumb, a man always stands on the side of danger. So if you’re walking on the sidewalk, the man should walk on the side closest to the road.