Etiquette & Table Manners on Talking With Your Mouth Full

Finishing chewing your food before you engage in dinner conversation.
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When you're chewing gum or sucking on a piece of candy, usually you can move it to the inside of your cheek if you need to talk. But talking with your mouth full or being expected to answer a question just as you put a forkful of food in your mouth requires first knowing that that's unacceptable behavior. Thankfully, there's a proper way to avoid what could be an embarrassing -- possibly gross -- experience.

1 Conversation Timing

When you're enjoying a meal with friends or associates, it's rare that someone is watching to see when you take a bite of your meal so as to make a comment or ask a questions at the right time. So don't be surprised if a question is directed to you just as you put a bite of food in your mouth. If the person notices, she'll likely understand that you can't answer until you've finished chewing and swallowing your food. Otherwise, manage a smile, put down your fork and raise your napkin to your mouth. If you're in a casual environment, it could be appropriate to raise your finger that suggests, "Wait a second until I'm finished eating."

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.