Have you ever arrived at an event or restaurant, found your table and realized you were the first person there? Or perhaps you arrive at a meeting and find a mostly empty room, tables set and waiting?
The one thing you don’t want to do is plop your belongings on the table – bags, purses, sunglasses, cell phones, keys, briefcases or backpacks — it’s poor table etiquette. To begin with, it’s highly unsanitary; how many times have those same bags and briefcases been placed on the floor (and where)? Keys and phones are set down all over the place – what may have tagged along when they were picked up?
Secondly, the tables have been attractively set; by your actions, you are showing complete disregard for the time and effort that went into the preparations, as well as disrespect for your fellow guests, attendees and host.
A few weeks ago I had the fun of helping with a young friend’s wedding reception. We turned an ordinary room in a community center into a beautiful space with lights, flowers, and decorations. The tables were carefully set with centerpieces, candy, table favors, utensils, and napkins – all spaced and aligned in a precise manner for a uniform appearance. (I’m particular about details and I wanted the first glimpse of the room to be magical for the young couple.) Now, imagine what it felt like when everything was finished and we were ready to leave for the ceremony, only to look over and see a man sitting at one of the tables. He had pushed everything in front of him (two table settings wide) aside, and plopped a large case of some sort on the table, while he leaned back in a chair, involved in a (loud) telephone conversation.
No, I did not say anything – he was a guest. I simply watched as he got up a few minutes later, gathered his belongings and walked off without a backward glance at the mess he had left behind. Fortunately, it was a fairly easy fix, physically. Mentally, I’m sure the steam coming out of my ears added to the heat of the room whenever I saw him later on.
If you are the first person there, always leave the table looking as pristine as when you arrive. It shows respect to others and presents you in a favorable light.
Have you ever watched someone who cannot keep their hands from touching everything – their face, their hair, their clothes, their pen, phone, rattling change. It makes them look scattered and distracted.
Give the impression of control and graciousness by keeping your hands to yourself.