Sunday, 18 March 2012

We can go back
When people discover I am an etiquette consultant, the most common sentiment expressed to me is nostalgia for the way things ‘used to be’ in Bermuda. Part of Bermudas charm was always its people and how they interacted with others. I wouldn’t say that we were unique but we did make the kind of favorable impression that Bermuda became renowned for. I am the type of person who sees a glass as half full, not half empty and I am convinced that it is possible to go back and draw upon the positive things in our past that enriched our lives. The evidence is all around us and I invite you to join me on the journey to rediscover Bermuda as the enriching experience it ‘should’ be and ‘can’ become again.
I’ll look for examples in our daily lives where attention to etiquette, good manners and civility can make a difference and comment on them. I welcome feedback from readers with examples of their own and offer my advice. 
Children in restaurants. Everyone enjoys going out to eat and children are no different. I cannot recall ever seeing a child being reluctantly dragged into a restaurant. Like everyone else, they are excited about going and look forward to new experiences. Last week, I took my class of seven, 6 ½ year olds to a well known 5 star restaurant for dinner and one parents comment to me was that I was brave to do it. But it is a learning experience for the children and I never hesitate to include it in my program. There is no magic formula to making this work for children. It’s just simple preparation and realistic expectations. If you tell them ahead of time what they can expect and what is expected of them, you have a much better chance of compliance. A basic rule of good manners is to consider the feelings of others in whatever we do. Dining out should be a pleasant experience and everyone must do their best to make certain they are not responsible for making it otherwise. So here are a few pointers for all ages that set the stage for getting us back to our etiquette roots:
·         Be on time.
·         Remember what you’ve been told about ‘restaurant voices’.
·         Do not make unreasonable demands of wait staff. 
·         And for children, know the child you are offering this experience to well enough to recognize their limit. When they’ve reached it – it’s time to go. There will always be another time.

There is not a doubt in my mind of the positive impact adherence to these pointers can have. The restaurant proprietor becomes open to accepting reservations that include children because he knows it is possible for them to behave in a manner that will not disturb others. Diners noticing well behaved children will be inclined to consider including their own children the next time they dine out. Doing things as a family enriches our lives. Children gain from the experience of meeting expectations set for them and learn how behavior influences others view of a person.
I see restaurant behavior that is less than ideal all the time but I know it is good manners not to comment on it. I’ll only smile in hopes that it will be enough help the person remember what they should be doing.                                                                                    Trudy Snaith, Etiquette Consultant  

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