Answers Your Etiquette Queries

'Etiquette' may seem like an old-fashioned word, but in reality, modern manners is something you most likely deal with multiple times each day. Often, we don't know whom to turn to, to resolve our daily etiquette queries. Well, we’re trying to resolve your dilemma by giving you the opportunity to send in your etiquette queries to an expert in the field. In an exclusive collaboration with Explosive Fashion, Savoir Faire Academie founder Konkana Bakshi — an authority on corporate and social etiquette — answers queries sent by our readers this week.

RANJUNEE KUMAR - What is the 'everyday living' protocol we should know? For instance how long should a handshake be? Or in which hand does one hold a drink? How do you signal a waiter? Where do you place your silent-mode cell phone at a meeting? These thoughts have often popped into my mind!

KONKANA BAKSHI - A handshake lasts for two-three shake and not more; the firmness of the hand has to be paid attention to because a limp handshake makes you appear weak and nervous whereas a tight handshake can signal overconfidence. It has to be firm keeping in mind you are not breaking the other person's fist! To answer your second query a drink is held in the right hand, unless you are a lefty. Thirdly, you catch the attention of a waiter with your index finger slightly raised. Try eye contact or a nod first as that's considered classier. Lastly, your phone is always kept inside your briefcase or bag and never on the table. It has to be in silent at all times unless you are expecting an emergency call, in that case always mention that at the beginning of the meeting.

DEREK - What are the five formal Dining Etiquettes I should be aware of?

KONKANA BAKSHI - 1) In formal dining, the table is set as per the protocol. If it's a set course meal, that's where most people get confused. In this case, the silverware is used from the outside. Towards the inside. The table is set with bread on the left, meal in the middle and water on your right. 2) The soup is eaten holding the bowl close to your mouth straight from the bowl. Remember, the soup is always eaten, never drunk. 3) The napkin is to be placed in your lap only to dab on your mouth, and not your face, hands or anything else! Napkins, are placed on the handle of the chair in case you are excusing yourself from the table. And it's placed on the right side of your plate after the meal. 4) If you are using chopsticks, digging chopsticks in food or dimsums is a sign of death in their culture. Avoid it!! You can always apologise and eat with fork instead if you don't know how to use chopsticks. 5) The lady always sit on your right and you get up if she excuses herself.

SHALINI WADHWA - Please guide me about Toasting Etiquette when raising a glass during an occasion.

KONKANA BAKSHI - It's a great gesture, toasting, but rarely done. Keep in short, to the point and humorous. Raise the glass of champagne with your right hand for the person you are toasting for and look at him or her at that moment. If you don't drink, you should at least have a sip from your flute; it’s not considered great manners to keep the flute down without taking a sip.

SNEHA RAJPAL - To Tip or Not to Tip: what is the etiquette at a salon or restaurant?

KONKANA BAKSHI - It's always good to tip around 10 to 15 per cent at a restaurant or salon. 20 per cent if you are over-the-moon happy. PS In Europe 15 per cent is expected from you at any restaurant.

NOOR KHAN - I have a query on Dining Etiquette: Who should Pay when you go out to a casual lunch with a business colleague?

KONKANA BAKSHI - If it's a business lunch, it's always Dutch no matter who invites or suggests having lunch, but if it's an invitation from a business colleague for a casual lunch, then the person who is inviting you is expected to pay. However you should always offer to Dutch.

RAAKESH BATRA - Is working for a Friend a good career choice? What should one keep in mind?

KONKANA BAKSHI - I wouldn't suggest working for a good friend as calamity always arises. If it's a necessity then keep a firm understanding of what's expected out of you and deliver that. Don't ever try to take extra leisure because the boss is your friend. He or she may not say anything but in a long run it's not going to work out. The last thing anyone wants is to lose a good friend over business!!

PRIYANKA MOR - what are the Makeup Bag Essentials when travelling and also in the handbag daily?

KONKANA BAKSHI - Sunscreen lotion, perfume, lip balm, lip gloss, blush, compact powder, hand cream and mascara. Curl your lashes in the morning; there no need to carry an eyelash curler in your bag. Refresh your makeup every few hours!

RAJ DEB - I am at sea with Gift Etiquette. How much is correct during the festive season or a birthday?

KONKANA BAKSHI - It would be wise not to buy something without having a clue of their personal choices. You can't gift a bottle of wine to a person who doesn't drink! So it's always good to find out about their preferences and favourites before you thoughtfully choose a gift. A hand written letter or card accompanying the gift would be highly appreciated. For festive season, food items are normally given, but that becomes too much at times as everyone gives the same. You can be creative there and find something of need instead!

SRINIMOY - Cleavage in the workplace: How Much is Too Much?

KONKANA BAKSHI - There is no cleavage in the workplace!! Measure from your forehead to the tip of your nose — then the same from your chin downward. Only that much cleavage is allowed for business attire!!