Have you ever had someone try to remove your plate from the table before you were ready? How did that feel? Like you were being rushed to leave? As if you didn’t have any say over your own dinner plate? Embarrassing when you protested? Residents also have some or all of these feelings when their plates are whisked away unexpectedly.
Most people like to control what happens with their place setting. Some people even feel extremely irritated if their plate is removed before they are ready to let it go. It is jarring to have your plate disappear without notice.
Even if a plate is empty or the diner seems uninterested in it for the moment, he or she may not be finished with it. As a matter of respect and courtesy, ask before clearing. A simple, “Do you mind if I remove this plate?” or “Are you ready for me to remove your plate?” is all it takes. Don’t touch the plate until the resident has agreed you may.
The point when everyone at the table seems to be finished eating is the right time to ask. Then, clear all the plates at once.
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