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Filtering by Category: Etiquette

You Can Get Incredible Value From Writing Thank You Notes

Wendy Kinney

Thank you notes show who you are.

The etiquette rule is: 
any time someone does something for you that 
takes them more than 15 minutes, 
or costs them more than $15, 
they deserve a thank you note.

There are stories of Presidents who earned the support required to get that job because of a habit of writing thank you notes every day.

Princess Diana is reported to have written her thank you note, while still dressed in her gown, immediately upon getting home from a party. She was beloved.

Twenty years ago, when starting my business, I decided to write a post card to every person I met with in person, every day. Then I got busy and stopped. In the past two years I’ve systematized the notes and the addressing (that’s the time consuming part for me - the addressing) so I can delegate this. (Yes, including my signature.) I often start the day with a meeting of 20 people. By end of the day a post card is in the mail to each of them. Two days later I start getting thank you emails. Mmm.

I personally write a thank you note to the hosts for every party I attend. They did a lot of work - (I know, I have 8 to 30 people for dinner 10 times a year, it’s expensive and it’s a lot of work.) - and I’m honored to have been invited.

A few times a year I receive a thank you note. I keep them on a board near my desk to remind me that I am doing good work. There are six up right now. The last one says

Dear Wendy, 
I so enjoyed having coffee with you and getting to know you better! 
Not to mention how kind it was of you to help me improve my InfoMinute stories! 
Thank you so much! 
Best wishes, Trish :)

Three lines and she made my day. 
There may be nothing I wouldn’t do for her.
Small investment on her part for unlimited good will on mine.

I’m under no illusions when I write a thank you note - 
I know it’s for my benefit,
to show who I am.

How to Make a Good Impression at a Restaurant

Wendy Kinney

The Question:

Should customers stack their own finished plates at a restaurant?


At a restaurant with service, and metal silverware, and cloth napkins, here are the rules.

1: When you sit down, put the napkin on your lap. (If you want to be very correct the fold is toward your hips, not toward your knees, but I don’t know who will ever check this!)

2: The napkin stays on your lap until you leave the table.
If you leave the table during the meal, leave the napkin on your chair. 
At the end of the meal place it beside — never on — your plate.

3: Good service requires all dinners to be served as simultaneously as possible because it is rude to begin eating before everyone has their food in front of them. There are no exceptions to this rule. (Just don’t. Even if they say “Please go ahead,” don’t. I say, “I’ll wait.” then smile and continue the conversation.)

4: The goal is for everyone to finish at about the same time. Which means pacing yourself, and your conversation. If you finish before everyone else (maybe because you weren’t contributing to the conversation?) do not ever

4a: push your plate away - your plate stays where it is, right in front of you.
4b: allow the server to take your plate - the goal is for everyone to have their plate removed at the same time - it is rude for plates to be removed when anyone is still eating.
4c: since it has become popular for individuals to act for their own convenience instead of courtesy to others, some servers will violate this rule. I’m often first finished. If the server moves to take away my plate I put my hand over it and say “I’ll wait until they’re done, with a smile.

5: If you drop a fork, leave it there. For the most part etiquette is about cleanliness and safety. You do not want the nasty fork that was on the floor to be on your table. Leave it there. When the server comes say, quietly, “I dropped my fork, may I please have another?” 
5a: If a glass falls, spills, breaks - the server cleans it up. If it’s a horrific mess everyone gets up, and moves away from the table so the server can clean up. Sometimes they will move you to another table, often they will just take a clean napkin and place it over the spill, and the conversation continues. Don’t make a big deal about it. Accidents happen. Thank the server for their service and continue the conversation.

6: There is never a time when it is appropriate for you, a guest, to stack plates at the table, the way you would if you were at a fast food restaurant and were going to throw them away. The china and cutlery is cared for. The servers care for it. If the server stacks plates (very good servers don’t) so they can clear the table more evenly, or quickly, that’s their decision. It’s a style issue for the restaurant, and they’ve been trained whether that is appropriate for their guests.

The most important thing to remember is that dining is as much about the experience as about the food. Dining with others is a choreographed dance, or drama, that brings maximum pleasure. If you are just there to eat, do that at home, from a bowl, with a spoon, in front of the TV. When you are dining create an experience of grace and gratitude.