Etiquette Refresher: Knives + Forks

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Good table manners are a necessity for everyone and there are some simple rules to remember when using cutlery.  In this post we review the simple do’s and don’t when using a knife and fork in Australia.

A knife should not be held like a pencil, rather it should be held with the end of the handle touching the centre of the palm of your hand.  Your thumb should extend down one side of the handle with the index finger pointing down the back but never touching the actual blade.  Your other three fingers should curl naturally around.

When a fork is used without a knife the tines (prongs) should always point upwards.  The fork should be held near the top of the handle, resting on the middle finger and supported by the outer fingers.  Left-handed people hold it in their left hand, while right-handed people should transfer it from the left side of their plate to their right hand.

Australian’s have adopted the British system of only using both the knife and fork together for the main course.  The knife, only required when cutting.  When used together, the knife cuts the food and is used to push the food onto the prongs of the fork, not onto the scooped side.

When resting cutlery between conversation, the knife and fork should be crossed on the plate with the fork over the knife and the prongs pointing down. When finished eating, place the knife and fork together with the prongs of the fork facing upwards and the blade of the knife facing the fork.

Related Posts:
Etiquette Refresher: How to eat soup
Dining Out Etiquette
My top 5 secrets to weight control

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Q&A No. 1: Seating a Lady

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Anna recently asked:
Does a lady enter a dining chair from the right or left side of the chair?

A socially savvy gentleman knows that his date is always seated to his right.  The same applies to casual situations and especially formal where the lady enters the dining chair to the right side.  When all the women at the table are seated, the men sit down.

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Your Votes Revealed!

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A special thanks to all my lovely viewers and readers who have voted and sent in your thoughts about what you’d like to see featured more frequently on Grace & Poise and also for your suggestions on how to improve the content on this blog.  Within just seven days we had over 250 votes come in: many of which were your own personal ideas that you’ll see featured in the upcoming posts – keep eyes peeled!

Your Votes:

The Etiquette column featuring up-to-date advice on manners and common courtesy  received maximum votes.

The Motivational/Inspirational column was the runner-up.  Primarily our monthly, Words of Wisdom and the ‘Today’s Reminder‘ updates posted daily on Facebook and Instagram prove to be popular.  This feature will certainly continue.

How-to fashion/style column/OOTD came third and is a feature which interests me greatly.   Along with suggestions of commencing a new column featuring my personal style (OOTD) I look forward to creating a new addition to Grace and Poise.

Youtube.  Second-to-last votes went to creating a YouTube channel.  While this is something that I would love to do and I realise that many of you have voted that you’d like to see this feature I recognised that at this point in time it will have to be put on the back-burner.

Frequency in posting was what many of you voted for.  It is definatly something that I would like to improve on and I’ll promise to do my best a featuring posts more regulary.  However, due to work and study commitments I can’t make any great promises.

Other Requests:

Along with the suggested votes, many of you wrote your own suggestions and requests.  A special note of thanks to those who sent in their personal requests such as:

  • How-to improve manners
  • Personal posts – we’d like to get to know you better
  • On the topic of Gentlemen
  • The articles on femininity is a favourite
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Whilst this poll officially closes today, a new one opens which will remain open for the duration of the blog as a window for new readers to share their thoughts on what they would like to see featured on this blog and share their comments and make suggestions.  The poll will be displayed on the right column of this blog for future suggestions.

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Etiquette Refresher: How to eat Soup

If soup is served and it comes in a wide, fairly flat dish, scoop it up by pushing your spoon away from you rather than towards you.  Never put the entire spoon in your mouth – instead, fill a soup spoon to about 75% full, bring it up to your mouth and sip from the side – with as little slurping as possible.

When your soup runs low it’s acceptable to tilt the dish away from you to capture the remnants.  Don’t dispair to leave a small amount in the dish as there is nothing more irritaing than one scraping away at the dish as if it’s the last meal you’ll be eating.

If consommé is served in a cup or a bowl with handles, use your spoon to consume what you can then put the spoon on the saucer, concave side upwards.  Pick up the cup or bowl by it’s handle/s and drink the rest.

Bread served with soup should not be dipped and eaten.  This serves the reason for having croutons (toasted bread cut in bite size pieces) which accompanies soups.

Where to leave your spoon? If the bowl is shallow it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the spoon in the dish facing away from you.  If not, place on the saucer provided.

What Makes a Woman – a Lady: Manners, Manners, Manners

(a follow up from our series on What Makes a Woman – a Lady)

Manners, no doubt come hand-in-hand with being a true Lady.  Can you imagine an incredibly elegant, successful, graceful woman without a few manners?  No, it’s almost an impossibility!  So it would be correct to conclude that manners definitively form a very integral part of the making of a lady and also the makeup of a well-balanced and prosperous society. It’s like the oil that creates a happy and successful society.

Oddly enough for this current generation “manners” – the little courtesies and expected acts which your parents taught you at the dinner table when you were 4 years old – are now fading into irrelevance and these past forms are being regarded as “old-fashioned” and too “dated” for Generation Z.

This is evident as we breakout into what constitutes “modern society”.  Where the commonplace individual naturally behaves more rudely, making interaction difficult and hence creating an unpleasant social environment that makes people sometimes just want to run and hide.  In today’s society, bad manners can be observed anytime, anywhere. This sort of discourtesy is ever present and examples are too numerous to count or even mention: the disrespectful treatment of elderly people; invitations that aren’t responded to in any way; the lack of commitment to any event, job, or person; confirming attendance with no intention of attending; the strange disappearance of “please” and “thank you” from most people’s vocabulary; line-jumping; serial texters and cell-phone addicts who talk on the phone, as well as read and send text messages instead of paying attention to physically present persons; the friend or colleague who never offers to pick up the bill at lunch, or even pay their own way; repulsive children (the spitting image of their parents) who think that the world rotates around them and behave obnoxiously because of it, etc, etc.

Yet ironically we tend to blame the younger generation for these rude behaviors, but the truth is that the situation is degrading all ages and levels of society. So much that now it is commonplace to see couples openly insulting each other in public and treating each other with absolutely no common courtesy (a sliding scale which leads directly to physical and verbal abuse).  Just as unfortunate, and equally common is disrespectful and dishonest treatment between colleagues in the business world, who fall back on tricks, half-truths and crude vocabulary to make ends meet. And then, to add insult to injury, these issues are left to be resolved by enormous and costly governmental programs, that can do nothing when facing this irreversible deterioration of personal relationships without the involvement and commitment of everyday people in their everyday lives.

So we conclude that we need to put a stop to this seemingly steep spiral of degradation and deplorable behavior.  We need to revolutionize this generation and bring forth some action.

You may sit back comfortably in your office chair and wish me luck but I’m here with a plan of action bubbling with inspiration from my own heart to uphold these values and integrate them back into society.  It is my belief that we aren’t going to convert the whole world into a revolution – with thousands agreeing to raise the standard and step up the plate.  Yet you and I, as humble and common-place as we may be, pacing through our day-to-day activities in life can actually be the change that we want to see today.

Listed below are some of the everyday acts which we can bring into our life.  However modest and humble these qualities may seem – try one and see how much it makes a difference in the lives of those around you and what a presence of joy in shines upon your life.  So lets start small. . .

  • Saying “please” and “thank you”.
  • Never intentionally embarrassing another
  • Never talking only about oneself
  • Not gossiping
  • Not prying
  • Not asking personal questions
  • Not staring
  • Not pointing at someone
  • Not talking loudly
  • Not asking intrusive personal questions
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Cross your legs if you are wearing a dress
  • Wipe your feet at the door and take your shoes off in a persons home
  • Offer food or drinks to guests
  • Open doors for people behind you
  • Please, don’t skip in line
  • Apologize to someone if you bump into them
  • Watch your language in front of children
  • Wait to eat until everyone at the table is seated and ready to eat
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Always wash your hands after using the restroom
  • Dress accordingly for events
  • No excessive PDA
  • Ladies first
  • Make eye contact when talking to a person
  • Say excuse me when you wish to speak to someone who is engaging in conversation
  • Ask to borrow people’s personal belongings
  • Introduce yourself to people when you meet them
  • Don’t put your elbows on the dinner table
  • Don’t burp at the dinner table
  • Don’t comment on people’s weight or age (unless it’s positive)
  • Respect your elders
  • Don’t hit other people
  • Don’t lie or steal
  • Say sorry when you do something that hurts someone else
  • Mind your own business
  • Be a good listener. Don’t interrupt.
  • Do not discuss sex, religion, or politics when you first meet someone. Be courteous when you do.
  •  Anticipate the needs of others.
  • Don’t have your radio or TV so loud it bothers others.
  • Use your turn signal.


In the above we have highlighted quite a few of the common every-day acts and gestures.  But since we focus on the making of a woman in this series we feel it apprpriate to highlight some of the deeds that are particularly noticed and appreciated when displayed by a lady.

  • When you mention your enemies speak about them with respect – not matter what they did – they are human and still deserve respect (Yes, I do mean you’re ex too!)
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion. Yes, this is a tricky one but do you’re best.  A lady never deliberately sticks out of the crowd.
  • Cut the whining and complaining.  Seriously, who like a girl that constantly whines and nothing is ever perfect for her?  Take what you’ve been given with grace and use it to the best of your ability – however meager it may be.
  • Honesty.  One of the greatest attributes bestowed upon mankind.  Use it with tact and pride.
  • Project yourself – real, human, feminine, (and slightly imperfect!) with spirit and vitality.  Don’t try and be a copycat.  You’re unique – embrace it.
  • Be charming.  Strive to be lovely, use small-talk and your smile.
  • Cut out the crudeness.  Enough said.
  • Know how to handle yourself and your emotions.  Know what makes you upset, angry, depressed, moody.  Learn how to curb the unloveliness.  Yes, this takes time and effort maybe a bit of actually trying and failing but remember that old saying, “practice makes perfect?”.
  • Be punctual.  If you’re late – apoligise beforehand.

…and finally remember…

Kindness and courtesy needn’t always be deliberate and planned. Spontaneous kindness is an attribute of a person who already is well-mannered and courteous and whose natural instinct for courtesy is demonstrated in everything he or she does.