“Good manners reflect something from inside – an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.” - Emily Post
You are invited to your first business dinner. Congratulations! While you can't wait to join the event, here is a gentle reminder: no matter how fancy the restaurant is or how fun the event looks like, the focus is still business. Let me prepare you with some etiquette tips so that you can handle things properly while enjoying the time.
Tip 1: Eat a little ahead of time.
Don't bring an empty stomach to the dinner. You will have a hard time to control your pace and enjoy the conversations while you are craving for food. The main goal for a business dinner is business conversations, not the food. The simple step can also help you control your pace so that you don't eat too fast or too slow.
Tip 2: Dress wisely.
Don't dress white suite to dinner where food stains could easily show—then following the general business attire rules such as: avoiding low cut dresses and wearing closed-toe shoes.
Tip 3: Use napkin wisely.
The napkin on your table is a great prop to help you stay in control while eating. Put the napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated. You can take the napkin off the table, unfold it, and then put it on your lap with the folding side towards you. Later, you can pull the loose end and use it to clean food on your lip.
After you have some food, you would typically need to use the napkin to clean the food on your lip before drink water or wine. The reason is that if you don't, something on your mouth could stick to the class. You definitely don't want to see that happen.
If you have to excuse yourself during dinner, place the napkin on your chair, not on the table. This tells waiters that you leave temporality so that the waiter will not clean your seat.
After dinner, put the napkin on your left on the table and leave.
Tip 4: Avoid playing cellphones.
Silence your cell phone and give full attention to the people around you. Shake hands and say high to everyone. It's time to focus on people. If you have to take a call, excuse yourself, go outside and take to call to avoid any distraction.
Tip 5: Order food with considerations
Don't order food that you can't handle. Chicken with bones, lobster, or big juicy burgers usually is challenging to work on. Don't order spaghetti with red sauce. You can quickly leave read spot on your cloth while eating them. The food that can easily mess up or keep you busy eating is not wise because you will then lose the focus to connect with the people around. Enjoy them when you are alone. The bottom line if you don't know how to handle something properly, then just avoid ordering it.
It's always a good idea to order later after you can see what the host or hostess, or others ordered. For example, you would not order appetizers or dessert if the host or the majority don't.
It also wises not to order the most expensive item on the menu nor the cheapest one. Stay in the middle can make the hosts feel comfortable.
Stay away from ordering alcohol unless the host did so. If there are alcoholic drinks, control how much you can take and never take more you can handle.
Tip 6: Treat waiters politely
Business manner extends beyond the people you are dining with. You would always treat the waiters respectfully. Always say "please" and "thank you" to appreciate their service to you.
Tip 7: Wait before eating.
Wait for your host to begin eating and wait after all the people on the table are served. It OK for them to tell you to start without waiting.
Tip 8: Pass food properly.
In general, you don't want to put your hand on top of others' food. Ask for help or offering help to pass the food. When requested to give salt or pepper, you would always pass salt and petter together. While picking up bread, always offer people on your left, pick up yours, and then give to the person on the right.
Don't salt and pepper your food before first trying it. People perceive you are a lack of independent judgment if you do so.
Tip 9: Use the right silverware.
Use the silverware where they are dedicated. After using the silverware, don't put on the table cloth. Put the silverware on the plate instead.
You can use silverware with American or Continental style, but avoid mixing them. In general, you cut the food in bite-size and send the food to your mouth. If you use American style, put your hand on your lap while not holding silverware.
Tip 10: Chew with your mouth shut.
After food gets into your mouth, chew with your mouth shut. Avoid talking while you have food in our mouth. This way helps avoid making sound while eating nor spitting out food. The trick is to eat in small bites so you can quickly join a conversation.
The tips are useful for other business meals, including customer receptions, job interview lunches, or social gatherings at work. One thing to remember is that etiquettes are rules guiding for proper manners. However, good manners are now bound by the rules. People with good manners are those who pay attention to other's needs and address their needs so that they can make others feel comfortable. Sometimes there is a need to break the rules to achieve the goal. Good manners can take you far, not the rules.
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