Source: Telegraph Journal
Published Saturday October 16th, 2010

I recently had the honour of teaching a short dining etiquette class to a group of 50 high school students from across the province. They are participating in a leadership program designed to give them helpful tools in either continuing their education or entering the competitive world of employment. This potentially daunting exercise turned out to be one of the most exciting of my career. Dining skills are important to learn. They build self-confidence, help you to make a good impression during a meeting or job interview and make the entire dining experience more pleasurable and successful.

I decided to focus on one of the most important dining skills of all – conversation. How we speak to one another and the topics we choose play a significant role in determining the overall mood of the meal. It even influences our digestion.

An art of conversation that is slipping away is the habit of speaking to the person seated on one side of you during the first course, and to the person seated on your other side during the second course. I find this guideline quite restrictive if followed to the letter; however, it is a very useful way to break the silence around the table and to avoid general mayhem. It can be extremely helpful in a group of people who are meeting for the first time.

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