I was at a client lunch for a team I was helping with strategy a few months ago and at that lunch, I asked if the woman across from me wanted to hear a dining etiquette tip or two, which is often what I do when dining with clients as they’re always glad to hear about ways to improve their presence in and out of the office. We were chatting about it when one of the women asked, “Why does it matter?” and then went on to point out that it’s all based in classism and colonialism. I agree that old etiquette ‘rules’ were highly exclusionary, and your social mobility depended on your ability to adhere to the rules. Today, etiquette is designed to make people feel confident in their ability to handle any social situation that comes their way and make the people around them comfortable. It demonstrates who you are to others around you, and it speaks to the level of respect you have for yourself and for others. Are these ideals set in a white Christian heteropatriarchal system? Yes. Does it matter how you hold your fork? Yes, if you enjoy form with the function or if you’re in a place where it matters to the people around you. Does the system need to change to ensure people are included, not excluded? 100%. Modern etiquette can be a part of the change. More importantly, if it makes you feel good, makes you worry less about cutting your food and lets you focus on being with people over a meal, then it matters. Make it work for you.
Why Does Etiquette Matter?