My daughter, Lizzie, was a guest on Katie, Katie Couric’s talk show last week. While, naturally, I enjoyed all of Lizzie’s appearance, I was particularly struck by one of the etiquette dining tips Katie and Lizzie discussed: holding a fork when cutting food. While you might think it need not be mentioned, it’s something that people notice.
The important thing about manners, and table manners in particular, is that they help you project a positive image to the people around you. With table manners, the real goal is NOT to draw attention to yourself as you are eating. And, unfortunately, holding a fork incorrectly draws unwelcome attention to you. Katie makes this point when she said, “I go out to dinner with some adults and how they hold their fork and knife, that’s shocking to me.” What shocks her is to see a person holding a fork like this:
A better way, a way that lets you be in control of your fork (and knife for that fact because you hold it the same way) is to hold it like this:
It’s easy to do: With the tines of the fork facing down place the butt of the handle in the palm of your dominant hand. Then, grasp the handle with your middle finger, ring finger, and pinkie. Place your thumb on the handle so you hold the fork firmly with your thumb and fingers. Finally, place your forefinger on the back of the handle of the fork. Now you can easily press the tines of the fork into the food to hold it while you cut it with your knife. The easiest way to hold the knife is to do exactly the same with your other hand.
Typically, people who are right handed hold the fork in their left hand and the knife in the right hand. Left-handed people can do exactly the opposite.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."