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8 Dinner Table Habits That Are Making Your Guests Uncomfortable

Experts share insight on what to avoid in these social situations.

Whether you're hosting a meal at your home or making a group restaurant reservation, there's a lot you need to consider. The key to a good dinner party is making sure your guests feel well-fed and relaxed at the same time. Unfortunately, it's quite easy to do the opposite in such an intimate space. To help you avoid making any faux pas, we talked to experts to get their insight on what you should always avoid in these social situations. Read on for eight dinner table habits that could make your guests uncomfortable.

RELATED: 6 Things You Should Put Away When Guests Come Over, Experts Say.

Not thinking about seating

Outdoor backyard wooden dining table setup

If you're hosting people for a dinner, relationship and body language expert Nicole Moore says it's your job to come up with a seating arrangement that is well suited to all your guests.

"Many guests feel awkward if they approach a dinner table and don't know where to sit and this can make for undesirable seating arrangements," she cautions. "Don't be so busy with hosting duties that you forget to provide guidance on where guests should sit."

Even if you don't want to go as far as to set strict seating requirements or create place cards, Moore says most guests usually appreciate at least getting suggestions from the host on where they should sit.

"This takes the pressure off of them," she explains.

Using your phone at the table

Young man distracted by a text on his mobile phone while sitting at a table with friends before an evening dinner party

Let's face it, we're all pretty attached to our phones. But when you're hosting a dinner, you should never have yours out at the table, Moore warns.

"It's really important as a host to make your guests feel valued, and using your cell phone at the dinner table is one of the easiest ways to make them feel like you don't care enough about them to pay attention," she says.

Not only that, but once the host uses their phone at the table, it typically sends a signal that others can use theirs as well.

"This may make for a super distracted dinner table overall," Moore points out.

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Put Away in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over.

Chewing with your mouth open

Picture of young business colleagues on break in cafe

Aside from phone usage, the one dinner table habit that tends to universally upset people is chewing with an open mouth, or talking while food is in your mouth, according to Mason Farmani, an intuitive personal and corporate life coach based in Palm Beach, Florida.

When you're not gathering with others for dinner, you can eat however you want. But be careful to remember that open-mouth chewing is "generally considered impolite and off-putting" in the presence of other people, Farmani says.

"Chewing with an open mouth or talking while eating can be unappetizing for others, as it goes against the expectation of maintaining cleanliness and manners during meals," he shares.

Fighting at the table

Beautiful brunette woman talking while drinking wine. Female friends sitting at table during dinner. Communication concept

People don't want to gather for dinner just to become an audience member at your latest argument with a loved one.

"Nothing makes guests more uncomfortable than a couple or family squabbling at the dinner table," says Seth Eisenberg, relationship expert and CEO of the PAIRS Foundation. "Yes, it's worse than feeding the dog with your fork, letting Jill and Johnny eat while they stare into their screens, and even more difficult than a crying baby."

Talking about controversial topics

Friends and family having lovely garden dinner party in the summer, autumn

Sensitive topics shouldn't always have a place at the dinner table, according to behavior and wellness expert Kubanych Takyrbashev, PhD.

"While debates can be stimulating, it is essential to avoid contentious issues such as politics or religion that could lead to discomfort or alienation of guests holding differing viewpoints," he advises.

Takyrbashev says that hosts tend to assume that everyone at the table shares their perspective, even if they don't.

"This oversight can lead to awkwardness or even conflict at the dinner table, detracting from the overall enjoyment of the mealtime gathering," he warns.

RELATED: 6 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Dinner Party, Etiquette Experts Say.

Only talking to those closest to you

Friends and family having lovely garden dinner party in the summer, autumn

When you're hosting a dinner, it's your job to ensure that all guests feel included in conversation, according to Moore.

"Don't fall into the bad hosting habit of getting so wrapped up in your own conversation around your side of the table that you forget about your guests seated farther away from you," she says.

This can often become a problem at dinner parties with long tables, as those toward the middle may feel that they're too far away to participate in conversations happening on either side.

"If you notice that part of the dinner party looks bored or quiet, ask them a question specifically to engage them back in the conversation," Moore suggests. "Or, walk over to them and engage directly with them just to make them feel like they are part of the group."

Dominating the conversation

Friends enjoying Outdoor Dining Social Gathering

At the same time, you want to allow your guests the chance the talk—both to you and to the other people there.

"When hosts dominate conversations, I think they inadvertently create an environment where guests feel sidelined or unable to contribute," Takyrbashev reflects.

He says that while it's important for the host to help foster conversation at the table, they need to understand their potential impact on the inclusivity of any discussion.

"Guests might hesitate to interject or share their thoughts, resulting in a one-sided conversation that fails to engage all participants," he cautions.

Not taking dietary preferences or restrictions into account

holidays, eating and celebration concept - close up of friends having christmas dinner at home and sharing food

Sure, when you're planning to cook a dinner or picking the restaurant, you technically have the freedom to choose whatever food you want. But if you care about your guests, you'll want to consider them in your decision as well.

"Ignoring or criticizing dietary restrictions or preferences can make guests feel unwelcome or anxious about what they can eat," Farmani says. "This can lead to discomfort and a sense of being overlooked, disregarded, or disrespected."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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