Restaurant etiquette: which mistakes you should avoid

Restaurant Etiquette Bad Manners: 4 Mistakes To Avoid

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Who is this micro-class for

* Restaurant guests

* Waiters and restaurant staff

What you’ll learn

* The behaviors to avoid as a restaurant guest

* How to be a polite guest


* Less than 8 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

The worst restaurant manners can vary depending on cultural norms and personal preferences, but here are some generally poor manners to avoid.

1. Disrupting the restaurant's service


Arriving Late: Always notify the restaurant if you are running over 15 minutes late on your reservation.

Disregarding Kitchen Closing Times: If you arrive right before the kitchen closes, do not expect to be served. Kitchen closing times ensure that the staff is not forced to work overtime.

Seating etiquette

Ignoring Wait Times: If there’s a waitlist, be patient and wait your turn. Don’t try to jump the queue.

Ignoring Seating Arrangements: Don’t disregard the host or hostess’s seating instructions. Wait to be seated and do not just choose any table. The seating arrangements are meant to optimize space allocation and service quality.

Switching Tables: Do not switch tables on your own. If you are uncomfortable with your seating, politely ask the waiters if it is possible to change.

Table Hogging: Stay for a reasonable amount of time. Don’t linger at a table for hours during peak dining times. It is best to leave within 15-20 minutes after paying the bill.

Ordering food

Not Following Dietary Restrictions: If you have dietary restrictions, allergies, or special requests, communicate them clearly to your server. Don’t assume the kitchen will accommodate your requests without notice.

Picky Eating: If you have specific dietary preferences, choose a restaurant that caters to them rather than making extensive changes to dishes on the menu. Avoid asking for more than one change to a dish.

2. Being rude with the staff


Rudeness to Staff: Being disrespectful or impolite to restaurant staff is highly inappropriate. Always treat them with courtesy and respect. Say “please” and “thank you” and smile.

Getting the Waiters’ Attention: Do not whistle, shout, make ample gestures, snap your fingers, or clap your hands. Do not grab or touch the waiters. Instead, try to make eye contact and draw attention with a discrete gesture of your hand.

Respecting the waiters' time

Not Paying Attention to the Staff: Respect your waiters’ time and listen to them when they are talking.

Ordering When You Are Not Ready: Don’t keep staff waiting while you are still deciding your order. If you need more time, ask your waiter to come back in a few minutes.

Rushing: Do not ask staff to rush your order. If you wait over 15 minutes for a dish, politely ask the waiter if something is holding your order back.

Table service

Sitting Before Your Table Is Cleared: Be patient and sit when the staff invites you.

Leaving a Mess: Avoid leaving a messy table when you leave. Leave utensils, glasses, and towels in a tidy state.


Overly Critical Behavior: While constructive feedback is fine, being overly critical or complaining incessantly can be uncomfortable for everyone.

Sending Food Back After Eating It: If something is wrong with your food, send it back right after the first bite. If you eat it, you should pay for it.


Not Tipping or Under-tipping: In many countries, tipping is customary. Failing to tip or leaving an inadequate tip is considered disrespectful to the staff.

3. Annoying other guests


Talking Loudly: Excessively loud conversations can disturb other diners. Keep your voice at a reasonable volume.

Phone Usage: Using your phone excessively, taking calls, or playing loud videos without headphones can disrupt others’ dining experience. Keep your phone on silent and use it discreetly.


Bad Hygiene: Maintain good personal hygiene and wash your hands before eating. Avoid strong perfumes or colognes that might disturb others.

Blowing Your Nose: Excuse yourself from the table if you need to blow your nose, and do so discreetly in the restroom.

Respecting others

Inappropriate Dress: Respect the restaurant’s dress code. Wearing overly casual or inappropriate attire can be disrespectful.

Public Displays of Affection (PDA): Keep intimate displays to a minimum to ensure the comfort of other diners.

Splitting the Bill Inappropriately: Be considerate when splitting bills with friends. Don’t make it overly complicated, and tip appropriately based on the total bill.

Disruptive behaviors

Taking Photos of Your Food: You can take a few, quick, and discreet shots. Avoid taking a full photoshoot of your meal.

Getting Up Frequently: Excessive trips to the restroom or wandering around the restaurant disrupt the dining experience for others.

Allowing Your Children to Misbehave: Ensure that your children behave at the dining table. They should sit at the table and not wander around. If you give them an electronic device, make sure it is in silent mode.

4. Disregarding table manners

Table manners

Misusing Dinnerware: Use utensils, glasses, dishes, and towels correctly, and don’t switch them around.

Double-Dipping: Avoid double-dipping chips or bread into shared sauces or dips. Use a communal serving utensil if provided.

Personal space

Reaching Over Others: When sharing dishes or condiments, ask for them to be passed to you rather than reaching across the table.

Disrespecting Others’ Space: Avoid touching other guests with your coat or bag. Don’t place your personal belongings on someone else’s table or near it.

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Resources and useful links