Manners were the topic of conversation at a recent Girls Inc. luncheon I attended. The activity brought together 15 business women and 20 teenage girls for an afternoon of dining and conversation. The event was coordinated by Deborah Hester, CEO of Girls Inc., and Jeremy Park, the director of communications for Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance. The company also hosts the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club and Female Business Leaders Lunch.
Our group savored a four-course meal, generously prepared by Napa Cafe, as we talked about our lives and interests. Joining the girls were attorneys, account execs, financial advisors, PR execs, and insurance reps from FedEx, Merrill Lynch, the Boys & Girls Club, the University of Memphis, and Lipscomb & Pitts, among others. Thirteen-year-old Taylor Walton told me she attended, "because I want to learn table etiquette."
Why are good table manners so important? "Because these girls will soon find themselves in a situation, whether it's interviewing for a job or a college, and you don't want a lack of manners to get in the way of showing others who you are," says Heath Faraci, the wife of International Paper CEO John Faraci. Heath spent several months as a volunteer with Girls Inc., visiting each center to share her lessons on etiquette. The luncheon was a chance for the teens to practice what they'd learned.
As servers brought out tasty olive bruschettas and an iceberg wedge salad, the girls handled silverware while sharing their dreams for the future. One wants to be a doctor, another a vet. Shyness soon gave way to smiles.
With the rush-rush lifestyle many families lead, it's easy for dining rules to get lost in the shuffle. But knowing how to manage oneself in social settings boosts a child's confidence. Etiquette also goes beyond the knowledge of place settings; it's about considering the needs of those around you. "The way you present yourself to other people is important. First impressions count," says Faraci.
This is one of many opportunities Girls Inc. offers. This safe, fun, educational afterschool program is for girls ages 6-18. To learn more, call 523-0217.
FIVE ETIQUETTE TIPS
1. Always use silverware from the outer pieces inward. So, the fork farthest to your left is for salad, the second one is for the entree.
2. Your glass is always placed above your knife.
3. If you find a food you don't like, simply push it to the side of your plate.
4. If you must leave to use the restroom, place your napkin on your chair, not the table.
5. When finished with your dish, place knife and fork together with the handles over the plate. This makes it easier for your server to remove.