How to have impeccable table manners: The five fastest, easiest, and simplest etiquette rules to get you comfortable and easily through any meal

Good table manners make a difference.

Sometimes, they are the difference between getting the job ... or not. Between getting another date ... or not. Between making a good impression ... or not.

In fact, table manners are so important I decided to write the worlds fastest, easiest, simplest primer on meal-time etiquette.

This is so fast, easy, and simple that I promise you will be able to remember it and do it. Always.

Be considerate.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Because good manners are predominately just consideration.

See, I told you it was fast, easy, and simple.

Now, if that's all you can remember and all you can do, you are already well ahead of the pack. But if you want more details, then here are the five best table manner rules. These are so good, they should take you through dinner with the boss.

Fast, easy, and simple etiquette: The five very best table manner rules
If you follow these rules, and only these rules, you should be in really good shape. Good enough to be invited back.
  1. Eat with your mouth closed. Always, without fail, and without exception. If you have something brilliant to say, say it after you have swallowed. And when the waiter asks you if your meal is satisfactory just as you've taken a mouthful — and doesn’t it always happen like this? — just smile and nod.
  2. Eat quietly. No one wants to hear you slurp or chew. Ever. It will help if there is only enough food on your flatware that you can fit in your mouth in one bite. So do twirl your spaghetti. And do feel free to cut your salad if the pieces are too big.
  3. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Listen to your dining companion. Compliment the cook. And if you don’t want something, simply turn it down or leave it on your plate; there is no need to tell everyone how much you loathe a certainly vegetable or what it does to your intestines.
  4. Don’t be gauche. Don’t chew your ice. Don’t reach in front of people for salt and other items (instead, ask someone to please pass you the desired item). Turn off your cell and leave the Blackberry at home. Don’t groom. Be mindful of appropriate meal-time conversation. In other words, don’t discuss your latest visit to the gynecologist.
  5. Use the flatware on the outside of your place setting. Flatware is always arranged so the items on the outside (the knife farthest to the right of your plate; the fork farthest to the left of your plate) correspond to the current course. So, for the first course, you take the farthest fork and knife. When the course ends, leave your flatware on your dish; the waiter will remove it. For the next course, use the new fork and knife at the outside of your place setting. And so on. This saves you having to memorize what a fish fork, for example, looks like.

And if disaster does befall — the soup spills, the vegetable shoots across the table, the meal contains only items you cannot eat — just apologize, if appropriate; say something lightly amusing, if appropriate; and provide a suitable excuse, again, if appropriate. And remember, your host wants you there for your company. So relax and enjoy. Because that’s the one thing you do to perfection.