How many business dinners have you attended where your final memory of your dinner companion was chewed food discarded on the side of their plate or strands of spaghetti slowly being slurped into their mouth? Disgusting, right!?
Question: Do table manners really impact our image?
I recently had the honor of participating as a Coach at Salve Regina University’s Annual Senior Etiquette Dinner. The very organized, interactive dinner was a wonderful opportunity for graduating seniors, entering the workforce, to fine-tune their business dining skills. While eating, we covered many topics including which plate is YOUR bread plate and how do eat the rolls.
As our usage of technology grows, especially among Millennials, the art of the one-to-one interaction is at risk. Somehow, early scholars during the Renaissance Period understood the value of manners in social settings.
So what are some modern-day dinner etiquette tips that will ensure we seal the deal versus getting thrown into the dungeon?
Breaking bread – After you take a roll or slice of bread, take a pat of butter and put it on your plate. Your bread plate is always to your left. Instead of buttering the entire piece and taking a bite, break a small piece off, butter it and then put in your mouth.
No slurping your soup – Remember this is the 21st Century! Put just enough soup onto your spoon so you can sip it, not slurp it. When you are done, leave your spoon in your bowl. If you have a cup of soup with a saucer, it is ok to leave your spoon on your saucer.
No dipping, especially double dipping – As tempting as it may be to sop up that delicious gravy lingering on your plate, please refrain! Save that for dinner with your family and friends!
Follow the 4 and 5 letter Rule – If you cannot remember where the fork and knife go, use this idea: left and fork have 4 letters, so fork goes on the left. Right, knife and spoon have 5 letters, so they go on the right.
Spinach in your teeth? Try to avoid this by taking “business-size” bites (smaller bites) of food and chew at the back of your mouth. If you do suspect you have food in your teeth, politely excuse yourself from the table (leaving your napkin on your chair) and go to the bathroom.
To pay or not to pay? That is the question. – The answer is simple; if you are the host you pay. If you are the guest, it’s a nice gesture to offer to pay next time. FYI – if you are the guest, it is proper to say Thank You for inviting me, at the beginning of the meal and once again at the end of the meal. Wow your host with a hand-written thank you too!
Silence and store your cell – Resist the temptation to check for messages or updates. This sends a distracting and disinterested message to all parties at the table. If there is an emergency, establish that with everyone from the get-go, otherwise, put you’re your phone away!
To live we must eat. To build relationships, especially business relationships, we must eat with civility. We want our prospects, clients or colleagues to know we have been well-groomed and poised for success in the 21st century NOT reverting back to the ways of the Dark Ages.
Do your team members eat like royalty or peasants? Let’s book a fun and interactive professional dinner etiquette event. Email me today to get started!