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Singapore is a food paradise. Everywhere we turn, there’s a food place that’s within our reach. Many a times, we don’t dine alone. Instead, we dine with our friends, family members or clients. Whatever age you may be now, it’s also good to learn proper dining etiquette skills. Like it or not, people notice everything – from the way you dress to the way you talk. They also notice the way you handle your cutlery when you dine.
 
Good dining etiquette therefore helps to establish your reputation and boost your credibility. Think of it like another set of social skills that needs to be learnt and mastered.
 
From the arrangement of the cutlery and glassware to deciphering table manners to starting a good meal conversation, nothing is ever left to chance. There are rules governing each and every stage of dining etiquette. That was the message I shared with the Secondary Three students from North Vista Secondary School when I taught them dining etiquette training skills.
 
Arriving at Breeks City Square Mall, the students were all hyped up and ready to enjoy the three course dining experience. But first, they had to pick up a few handy tips on what to expect and what was expected of them.
 
Let me share the three simplest (and easiest) dining etiquette training tips with you now.
 

Dining Etiquette Tip No. 1: Eat Only When Everyone's Food Has Arrived
 
Wait until everyone is served before starting to eat. Good manners and etiquette cannot be overemphasized. Just because your dish arrives earlier than the others seated at the same table as you does not give you the right to start eating first. Remember, when you eat together, you create meaning together.

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Dining Etiquette Tip No. 2: Work Your Way From Outside In
 
Use your cutlery from outside in. Start with your knife or fork or spoon that is furthest away from your plate and work your way in for each course. If you follow this order, you will not be overwhelmed by the cutlery displayed and use the wrong ones. 
 

Dining Etiquette Tip No. 3: Talk While Eating
 
Do not just stare at your food and eat it. Instead, use this opportunity to get to know the people around you. Engage in small talk while eating. Remember, we don’t only eat at the dining table. We also form bonds and forge relationships. If you are in the business world, you also talk business and close deals.

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Most of the students struggled initially while learning to twirl their spaghetti. The trick is to twirl the spaghetti neatly into a small lump around the fork with the help of the spoon before putting it into the mouth. But with more practice, they all got it eventually. I'm so happy for them.

Dining etiquette is not only for the rich, famous or nobles. It is also for the masses. Leave a positive impression at the dining table and score extra brownie points in the hearts and minds of others. 
 
Bon appetite!

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Every often, misunderstandings occur because of a miscommunication or too little communication between people. Good communication is important as it is the key to helping others understand what we want to say and the nuance behind the message.
 
Welcome to today’s communication skills training at the Merchant Court Hotel for the non-uniformed officers of MINDEF.

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Drawing from the fields of communication, psychology, language and life coaching; the participants were in for a treat as the full day training gave them a better understanding of themselves, their colleagues and opened up their world view.
 
In life, it’s not what we say but how we say it that creates an impression in others. I like to call this perception. Just like how we see, hear, touch, smell and taste the outside world; so too can we recreate these senses in our inner world. So perception comprises both internal (from our own viewpoint) and external (from the viewpoint of others).
 
Less you think it is very difficult to start a conversation, fret not. Communication is all about building rapport. Once you know what makes the other person tick, you will be for a roll. 

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Communication is important and can be positive if handled well. It can also be hurtful, depending on how it is done and the words that are used. Through the different games and exercises I devised for the participants today, communication can only be complete if it successfully embodies both the verbal and non-verbal elements. Remove any one element and watch misunderstandings (and sometimes hilarious situations) occur.
 
Life is never a bed of roses. But if we take some time to understand the people around us – be they our family, friends, colleagues, clients or strangers; we can communicate effortlessly to them…just in the same vein like the great orators of all times.

Let the conversation begin!

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