Business Advantage: Dining situations put the spotlight on YOU!
by Barbara Hickey
July 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 1159 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
No aspect of an executive's persona is as highly visible and capable of directing a sometimes-cruel spotlight on him as the quality of his table manners.

- Letitia Baldrige

The last eleven tips from The Top 40 Tips of Business Etiquette are a reminder of the table manners that we have put aside for expediency. Good table manners require practice and the desire to not be a distraction to others.

30. The business meal is not about the food, but how you handle yourself in a dining situation

One of the best ways to build a relationship with your client, an employee that you wish to mentor, or someone that you respect, is to invite them to dine with you. The Business Meal is about "relationship building."

If you initiate the invitation, you are the host/hostess and control the meal so be prepared to ensure that you have a plan and it is evident to your guest.

31. When coming to the meal, enter from the right side and exit from the right side

There is a symmetry in dining and every rule is based on kindness, respect and the best way to ensure a pleasant dining experience.

When trying to sit in a group with limited space, let others sit before navigating the space.

32. The host/hostess signals the beginning and end of the meal by putting his/her napkin on the lap and when finished on the left side of the place-setting

Put the napkin on your lap without any fanfare with the napkin fold next to your waist.

If you have to leave the table during the meal, say, "Please excuse me." Put your napkin on the seat and push in your chair.

33. If it is not part of the meal, it should not be on the table

A purse, keys, and phones should be on your lap or on the floor in front of your right foot (so you know where it is). If this is a working lunch, try to think ahead and have a folder with papers and notepad that is not as intrusive as a portfolio.

Always be cognizant of the wait staff and their efforts to serve you in a timely and efficient manner. Respect for the wait staff sends a message to all present of your honest interest in kindness and respect for others.

34. Practice good posture and maintain your "dining space"

Put your arms at your sides and raise them up and down. This is the space allotted to you for dining. You should not put your elbows on the table, but you can rest your wrists at the table's edge. Elbows, remaining at your sides, will make your dining partners HAPPY!

35. Pass all foods to the right

Food is passed counter-clockwise.

There is a wonderful feeling that permeates from a table where people are helping each other with the various serving dishes.

The person on the left holds the dish for the person on his/her right. Then the person on the right holds the dish for the person on his/her right.

Salt and pepper is a pair, so pass them together even if asked for only one!

36. Once you pick up a piece of cutlery, it should not touch the table again

When you sit down at the table, you should survey the utensils and figure out what the number of the courses will be. The table will be set for utensils that will be used from the "outside in" toward the plate.

If you use a utensil, it should not touch the table again for the protection of the tablecloth or for health reasons if it is a bare table.

37. Cut only enough food for your next mouthful

Most people would like to cut up their meat or fish in one swoop, but they should not for two reasons:

(1) As dining is about more than the food, cutting two pieces at a time gives you time to enjoy the experience.

(2) It is better for your health!

38. Position your cutlery at 10:20 to signal to the wait staff that you are finished

Think of your plate as a clock and put your knife and fork at the time 10:20 when you are finished with the meal.

If you have to leave the table during the meal, but will return, put your knife and fork separated on opposite sides of your plate.

The wait staff should be trained to know these signals, but just in case, ask your dining partner to let them know that you have not finished.

Remember to place your napkin on the seat of your chair if you are returning.

39. When rising to leave, place your napkin to the left of your place or place-setting

When using your napkin during the meal, you can blot your lips if necessary, but the napkin should not go above the table until the meal is over.

Remember that the host or hostess determines the end of the meal, so DO NOT raise your napkin until he or she signals that the meal is over by putting the napkin to the left of his / her place-setting.

40. Write a thank-you note to your host or hostess within 48 hours

There is always preparation before a dining experience, even if it takes place at a restaurant. Thank the host or hostess for his or her efforts and list one thing that occurred during the event that you especially liked.

People remember such appreciation and often a note of thanks makes the effort expended all worthwhile.

Because you have the tools inside you to be the person that represents kindness and respect in all areas of your life, keep this mind:

Good manners are free, but they are also priceless! ]]>
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