Inappropriate or negative dining habits are generally not recognized by the person committing them, and so they would not know that their behavior is offensive. As no offense is intended, it would be rude to tell them you were annoyed by habits that you find disgusting. Etiquette errs on the side of “not.”
As Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Annoying dining habits are a conundrum, and some find it a difficult problem to deal with or resolve. Whether or not one is taught dining etiquette skills, being human makes us perfectly imperfect. Therefore, annoyances will sometimes creep to the surface during social occasions.
Are any of these familiar to you? A knife scraping on the plate…smacking or licking fingers…licking the back of the knife…slurping…biting the spoon with your teeth…eating with a mouth full of food…tossing the napkin on the table during the meal or not using it at all…reaching across the table to spear something with a fork… The list goes on.
Eating involves all the senses, and sound and visual sensitivities can be difficult to handle when you are present with someone whose dining skills are not up to par. Dining etiquette isn’t so much a specific set of rules as it is a bundle of civility skills pertaining to eating a meal with others.
There are meals shared with people once, or once in a while, and then there are meals shared with people on a regular basis. When you are in a close relationship with someone, you are probably sharing many meals together in any given time frame. And if you find their dining habits truly annoying, it may be worth having a conversation about.
If or when you decide to let someone know that you are bothered by the way they eat, keep these points in mind:
Annoyances around the ingesting of food need to be balanced with opportunities to practice self-control, and bottom line, it is always better to mind your own manners rather than someone else’s.
Watch for breaches of your own manners and work on correcting them. Do you interrupt others at the table? Do you glare at others when annoyed? Are you able to distract yourself with positivity by showing 100% respectful behavior?
Being aware of your own habits, negative or positive, will help avoid making others feel judged if you decide to discuss their dining habits. But the primary keys are always mindfulness, compassion, and kindness. Acting or not acting on your annoyance with someone should always be predicated on these practices.