Recently I had an opportunity to spend a Saturday morning with some young girls from Grace House and young women from the University of Montevallo’s Mu Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. who were my captive audience for a training on Dining Etiquette.
It had been a while since I’d done any group talks and quite honestly I didn’t realize how much I missed it until sharing that time with the ladies and little ladies. Like, I really miss speaking regularly. Their questions and responses were thought-provoking, sincere, hilarious, encouraging, hilarious (I know I’ve already said that), gasp-inducing and inspiring all at the same time. They all participated and were engaged, and sent a clear message to me that, regardless of what the media says or what we might see regarding girls and young women, the return of the lady is inevitable.
Yes, we debated who was better, Beyoncé or Kevin Gates (who? what?), but we also talked about which fork to use, what’s appropriate to discuss at the table, how to slice a bone-in, fried chicken breast with poise and elegance (and still get all of the skin and juicy, meaty goodness) and how to engage in effective networking at “fancy” functions. Sure, we talked about why it’s not a good idea to place gum behind our ears or on the rim of our plates, why “smacking somebody” is not the answer or why we can’t take crab legs from a buffet, but we also embarked on a stirring dialogue about the fact that each and every one of them will be someone BIG someday and deserved a seat at the table, and not just a seat at the table, but some undeniable influence as to what was being served, and preferably positioned at the head of that said table. We absolutely laughed out loud, when teaching each other how to gingerly bite a green, frosted cupcake or cut it with a fork, then sip tea with or without a pinky up. We discussed at length how not to pull out the hot sauce in our bag (swag) to saturate our food at a fru-fru function, and talked about how it’s okay to be classy and respectable and unique and still cute and noticed even in this bare as you dare, be angry, be loud, frown all the time, forget manners, and pop off at will world.
That time with the girls was the perfect balance of what makes a lady. A REAL lady is a woman who is able to put her best foot and best face forward, regardless of her setting or personal circumstance, regardless of her upbringing, regardless of what media or social media says and regardless of what she might have seen before or hasn’t received from others. And a REAL, REAL lady can do that while feeling comfortable and confident never forsaking that fact that she belongs.
So, here’s a snippet of what we discussed. Want more? Email email@example.com
Table Talk in the Business World
- Avoid: religion, politics, sports team talk, inappropriate jokes or topics of conversation.
- Share the conversation (Don’t be a talking hog).
- Plan to talk. Know what the topic of the event is and have conversation ready to share.
- Know the organization or product you’re representing or supporting.
- Take a deep breath and breathe, especially if feeling out of your comfort zone.
- Just say no to the telephone while at the table. (That includes snap chatting, texting during the event, answering your phone during the event, not turning off or silencing your phone and any other things we think we can’t go without for that brief 2-3 hours.)
- Know that you belong at the table, and the head of the table is always for the taking.