Northampton Press

Friday, May 29, 2020

Respectfully Yours: Others’ plates

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

I enjoy dining out with a group of my friends. But there is one person who is always picking food off my plate. I don’t mind when a group of us shares dishes around the table, but I can’t stand it when someone starts casually eating off of my plate without asking. What should I do without embarrassing myself or the person?

Dear Reader,

When did “Mine is mine. Yours is mine” become the rule at the table?

It’s one thing when family members or significant others take food from each other’s plates.

But when you are out socializing with a group of friends, randomly reaching over to someone’s plate without asking them is rude.

There are some people who love to share food and others like yourself who are not big fans of sharing at all.

Most people will not take kindly to having their food taken away from them. To be clear, there is a big difference between sharing and taking.

The best option is to nip it in the bud before you order. A preemptive suggestion might solve the whole snitching problem.

Using a kind tone, you could say, “I know you like to taste everything, but I’d rather you ask me first.” This would suffice.

Or you can try saying, “I’m ordering this, and you’re getting that. Maybe we can try a bite of each other’s before we start eating?”

You might also suggest, “If you want some of my appetizers, let’s order a second one for the table.”

If your gentle suggestions are still ignored, remember that it is never correct to embarrass someone regarding their manners.

Drawing attention to bad manners is bad manners.

What you cannot do, tempting as it might be, is point out to the person that grabbing food off your plate without asking is impolite.

Even though it is impolite, it’s not OK to shame someone publicly about manners.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Jacquelyn Youst