Thursday, November 23, 2006

How to deal with rude a maitre d'

I was at a restaurant recently – not an overly fancy place or anything - and couldn't help but notice a group of four young ladies walk in, nonchalantly ask a passing waiter if they could take the first table and then proceed to sit there.

When the maitre d' came by in a few minutes and said another group had been waiting for that table, they seemed to take great offense. They said asking them to move was embarrassing and that they had, in fact, asked the waiter and taken the table. It took many apologies and much persuasion on the part of the maitre d' to move them to another table.

Was this impolite behaviour on the maitre d' and restaurant's part? Or is it appropriate to wait only for a maitre d' to seat you, no matter how big or small the restaurant, or whether or not you have a reservation? What is the best way to conduct yourself at a restaurant – when entering the place, asking for your table, seating yourself, ordering, addressing a waiter and tipping?

~Veera Inamdar

Dear Veera,

It is absolutely inappropriate for the maitre d' to dislodge a customer who has been seated by a steward in his absence. Having created a blunder, the restaurants would have to bear the consequences. However, if the group has seated themselves, it would be within his right to request them to move.

If the restaurant has maitre d seating, it is solely the maitre his responsibility to seat customers according to the prior reservations and allotted tables. The reservation register is maintained, with specific table’s requests, for the precise purpose of avoiding any faux pas. Delegating a reliever while he is on a break would avoid any embarrassing faux pas.

Protocol demands that you always wait to be seated. Be prepared to be shunted if you take the liberty of plonking yourself at any table. If you have table preferences take the time to make a reservation to avoid any unpleasantness

The lady must follow the maitre d' to the table ahead of the gentleman and be seated first.

Immediately place your napkin on your lap or the maitre d will do it for you with his nose in the air, indicating that you were too slow.

Snapping your fingers to catch the attention of the steward is the height of bad manners. Try and make eye contact .If that fails, a simple “excuse me” or just raise your hand will do the trick.

Genteel people would address the captain by his name from his name tag under his left lapel.
When placing your order read the name correctly from the menu. If you find the French name s unpronounceable just smile at the maitre d and take his assistance. If you are unsure about what wine to order, it is a good idea to ask for help.

The guest never does anything until the host does it first, including eat, put your napkin on the table – indicating that the meal is over, leave the table; he is after all, paying the bill the least you can do is to be courteous!

When eating sit up straight and bring the food up to your mouth. Never stoop towards the food.

If you spill food on your self, don’t make a scene. Excuse yourself and repair the damage in the wash room.

Should you spill food on the table cloth, ignore it .

Proper posture at the table is important. Sit upright with arms near the body and elbows off the table.

It is extremely rude to smoke at the table and is offending to even ask for permission to do so.

Never pick your teeth at the table or spit a piece of bad food or gristle into your napkin.

Neither should you speak with food in your mouth lest you spray others at the table.

Make pleasant table talk, steering clear off controversial topics

Taking a call at the table is taboo. Turn your cell phone onto silent or vibrator mode as you enter the restaurant but should an emergency arise, take the call outside

The host always pays the bill and the guests should accept gracefully without grabbing for the check.

Finally, tipping is a tricky business. In India, tipping is normally 10 percent of the total bill. In the U S , 15 to 20 % is mandatory —20 percent for a first-class place.

If you have had a drink at the bar, leave the bartender 15 to 20 percent, In Australia leaving a tip is not necessary. However, if a service charge is included in the bill, leaving a tip would be totally up to your discretion. If the service is impeccable or the waiter cute, you could leave a handsome tip.

Best wishes,

~Rukhsana Eisa.

Facing an etiquette crisis? Please mail Ms Eisa at with your queries.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Image Inc's Grooming & Etiquette Workshop

Grooming & Etiquette Workshop : Image Inc is conducting a Grooming & Etiquette workshop by Image Consultant Ms. Rukshana Eisa on November 20,21 & 22, 2006 from 10 am to 2 pm at Sunville, Worli, Mumbai 400 018.

The workshop will teach skills that will influence your success, enhance your confidence and improve your business and social etiquette.

For details call Maria on 2492 1010 or email mailto:rukshana.imageinc@gmail.comby November 16, 2006.







Ms Eisa's etiquette tips for Australian cricketers

The national dailies have given ample coverage to the uncouth behaviour of the Aussie cricket team and the strong reaction and protests that the incident has attracted. In my opinion this is a rather shameful lack of etiquette. I wonder though if it has been recognized so.

However before we begin any condemnation I hasten to recount my own experiences. This morning I was amused when arriving along with another invitee, at an official luncheon, the chauffeur of the official car in which we were traveling, nonchalantly sprang out to open the car door for the male leaving me to fend for myself. To add insult to injury, the livery at the posh five star hotel was quick to open the doors for the men quite oblivious of the women. And a boorish man almost collided with me in an effort to beat me through the door.

Though I hate to admit it, I realize we are in the midst of an “etiquette crises”. Over the last few decades the lack of etiquette has translated into a “rudeness crises”. Full fledged brawls or slinging matches erupt at the slightest provocation. How often have we lost a good deal by offending the sales person with an arrogant attitude? A junior staffer once landed in an awful predicament having to walk bare foot to work when a person stepped on her heel snapping the strap of her sandal. So much for personal space! Another arrived flustered and distraught after an unruly alteration with a group of militant women in the local train-Bad road etiquette can drive even the most passive into a flaming rage and queue jumping can make the mildest of tempers to flare! Yet we do not recognize this as a problem.

All this is not the inane rambling of a crank, but a valiant effort to prove a point.
The problem with rude behaviour is that most people do not recognize it as a problem. Behaviour is regulated by the law when etiquette fails or when violations against life, limb or property occur. This unwritten, tacit code of conduct is what assists living harmoniously in a community and man, - a social animal- unless living in solitary confinement, is a member of society”. Even animals adhere to the law of the jungle!

The problem is compounded by the reality that most don’t understand what etiquette is! So what is etiquette? Respect, good manners and good behaviour all rolled into one would be your etiquette. The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘the code of polite behaviour in society’ There is also a misconception that etiquette is a sort of ritual for the snobs or that it is a frivolous pastime not to be taken seriously. Etiquette is about human social behaviour - your conduct in any public or private setting. To stress the need for etiquette would be to state the obvious.

What can we do?

Start with the common courtesies. Please and thank you are two simple words that evoke the maximum pleasure and well being.
Respect women and the elders.
Open doors and stand aside for them to precede you indoors.
Offer them your seat. Escort a lady walking along side and not leaving her to trail several steps behind dodging portholes.
Watch your language while in the presence of the women folk and senior citizens.
Wait your turn in queues that is what they were designed for in the first place.
At a restaurant, let the lady walk ahead of you to be seated. Hold her chair out while she is being seated.
Ask for her preference in the menu before placing the order.
If you are the host or hostess it is good manners that you pay the bill unless, of course, you have decided to go “Dutch”
How peaceful and calm the world would be if people stopped jumping queues, crowding entrances sticking chest to derriere in a line or check in or out counter.

Finally I suggest that you do not fall into the trap of those who say that they don’t care about etiquette but object to the conduct of others towards them. If you behave in a way that offends the people that you are trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you.

It appears however that we are not the only country in the throes of an etiquette crisis. The Australian Cricket captain, it seems, might need a crash course.

by Rukshana Eisa.