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How to Mind a Few Manners

May 16, 1997|KATHRYN BOLD

Here's list of do's and don'ts from Consuelo de Chozas, who teaches etiquette to children, movie stars and business executives:

Dining

* Don't panic when you see four utensils on either side of your plate. Work from the outside in. If a salad is served first, pick up the fork farthest to your left.

* Don't monopolize the butter dish. Take one butter ball or square from the dish and put it on your bread plate, then pass the butter to someone else.

* When proposing a toast, look the person you're toasting in the eye, then glance at the rest of the guests. If you're a guest, always accept an invitation to join in a toast--even if you're only drinking water. If you don't raise a glass, you're snubbing the honoree.

* Never drink from a bottle when glasses are available--and they usually are, De Chozas says. "It looks nicer."

Conversation

* In introductions, the person you mention first is the one you are honoring or the person of higher rank. "Mother Teresa, I'd like you to meet John Smith."

* Never be too familiar. Use formal titles such as doctor, mister, misses or miss when meeting someone. "Never use first names unless asked."

* Some topics are off-limits. Polite conversation dictates that you stay away from talk about religion, politics and money.

* A letter of sympathy should be handwritten and not faxed. "You want to show you're there for the person," she says. Don't write personal letters on company stationery.

Dress

* For a party, follow the dress code. If you're not sure what to wear, call the host. "You should blend in because the organizers of the party intended a certain look," she says.

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