Business Class

By Suzanne Willis January 31, 2010

One of the first lessons in manners I remember receiving as a child was the proper way to hold and use my soup spoon. I was on a three-week Castles and Gardens tour of the British Isles with my grandmother, Mimi, and a bus full of senior citizens. Mimi and the others quickly taught me the “proper” way to eat my soup and partake of afternoon tea. I’ve been grateful ever since.

In this instance, the proper way to enjoy your soup is to hold the spoon as if it were a pencil, and spoon the soup away from you, toward the back of the bowl, and then bring the spoon to your mouth.

Does it really matter if people eat their soup the proper way? Only if they’re making a real mess. But knowing the right way to hold the spoon gave me confidence as a child and it still does today. I can concentrate on conversation instead of the silverware. That’s really the bottom line of table manners—interacting thoughtfully, while avoiding making a mess.

—Suzanne Willis, Southwest Florida etiquette consultant
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