The Importance of Dining Etiquette
By Victoria Pilate, Ph.D.
People notice everything. This is particularly true in business
relationships. In addition to great job performance, having good
dining etiquette helps to establish your credibility and reputation.
It also helps to make you an accepted member of the business
group. And if you think about it, it helps build your self confidence. It’s another skill to
add to your professional repertoire.
Deciphering Table Manners
Forks and knives are arranged by use from the outermost being the first used. While
eating, place knife, like a hat, across top of plate horizontally.
If there are two knives as part of
the setting, the fish (or salad
knife) will be the rightmost knife.
The inner fork and knife are
provided for the entree.
The water goblet and/or drinking glass to the right are yours.
The bread plate to the left is yours. Use the butter knife to put
a butter pat on your bread plate and then use your own knife to
butter the bread.
Tenets of Good Dinner Conversation:
Don’t be afraid of silence.
Read the paper or surf the internet beforehand
to have current events topics in mind for dinner
If all else fails, talk about what’s in front of you if you can’t think
of anything else (e.g., the lovely decorum of the
restaurant, attractive floral centerpiece on
Good Manners at Meals
When deciding what to order, once you have decided,
close your menu. It’s a signal to the wait staff that
you’re ready to order.
Wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat.
Turn your cell phone off.
Keep the table free of the extras like keys, portfolios and notebooks. If attending a
banquet, you may keep the dinner program handy on the table.
Quick Tips on “Power Lunches”
Relax. Even if the day is filled with negotiations, the expectation for meals is relaxation
and small talk. Take small bites so you can converse easily without a full mouth. Relax,
but remember you’re still in a business setting.
If you’re the guest at a business lunch such as a meal as part
of a site visit, it is understood that the host is paying for the
meal. You don’t have to offer to pay; just say thanks and
Keep it simple when ordering. Don’t try to show off by ordering
the most expensive thing on the menu. Business lunches are not
the best place to try something exotic and new nor to try
something messy or complicated. Lobster, ribs and fajitas spell
If you ordered it, eat it. It’s an insult to the host. Bring any
problem with the food discreetly to the attention of the wait staff.
Don’t order alcohol even if your host does.
Bonus Points for Business Dining
If you have to get up to get something for yourself, ask if
others at the table need anything.
If eating soup, the motion of the spoon should be away from
you. If eating dessert the motion of the spoon is towards
Resting elbows on table.
Brushing hair or applying makeup at table.
Putting your purse on
Blowing your nose at the table.
Being rude to the wait staff.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms
By Victoria Pilate, Ph.D.
Published by Crandell & Rose
ISBN : 0-9759665-0-2
Paisley Goes with Nothing: A Man’s Guide to Style by Hal Rubenstein.
For more information:
Dorm Rooms to Boardrooms by Victoria Pilate (Crandell & Rose, $13)
The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships
Between 12 and 2 by Robin Jay (Career Press, $14.99)
Don't Take the Last Donut: New Rules of
Business Etiquette by Judith Bowman
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