AUTHOR:
Kate T.

DATE:
January 13, 2015

CATEGORIES:
On the Job

READING TIME:
2 minutes

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Business Dinner Manners Done Right

AUTHOR:
Kate T.

DATE:
January 13, 2015

CATEGORIES:
On the Job

READING TIME:
2 minutes

When was the last time you thought about proper dinner etiquette – certainly not in the dining hall or when you and your roommates order take-out, right?

I can tell you my first time of having to use proper dinner etiquette in the “real world” came unexpectedly during a business trip. As a new employee, I was excited to travel to a new place and interact with colleagues and customers. I was feeling more and more confident as the trip carried on.

At the peak of my confidence, I attended a formal dinner at a road show the company was hosting. “Nothing to sweat” I thought before I entered the dining room. All I needed to do was follow what everyone else did. How hard could it be to put a napkin on your lap and chew with your mouth closed anyway?

I quickly found two problems with this theory. First, unless you already know what to do with three forks, two glasses and an extra plate on the side – putting a napkin on your lap is not going to help you. Second, I was seated next to a customer. That only increased my nervousness. The situation made me feel like I had the solo on center stage and just forgotten my lines. It really surprised me how much being unprepared for this experience impacted my confidence.

If I were to go back and do it all again, I would have brushed up on formal dining etiquette before the trip. Granted, the first time doing anything can make you uneasy, but it’s also a matter of knowing what to expect. You don't have to be able to name all of the utensils, just know which ones to pick up first and when.

Some tips for a formal dinner:

  • If there is a host or hostess, follow their lead. They will indicate when you should sit as well as when to start eating.
  • Place your napkin on your lap. It is considered customary, and has the added benefit of protecting your clothes!
  • If multiple courses are offered, there may be multiple sets of silverware. Rule of thumb is to start from the outside and work your way in. Each course will use a fresh set of silverware. Dessert silverware may be hiding out above your plate.
  • If plates of food are being passed, always pass to the right. Only use the serving utensils provided, never your own personal silverware.
  • If there are waiters bringing out each plate, they should serve you from your left. Be prepared when plates are incoming.
  • It is generally considered polite to wait until everyone has been served. If you're at a larger event with multiple tables, wait until the entire table has their food.

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Kate T.

Kate is a graduate of Ohio University, where she studied Communication Studies. She now works as a Corporate Recruiter in Dayton, Ohio. She is an expert on corporate life, as she works with the Reynolds summer internship program and teaches business etiquette courses to college students. After work hours, Kate participates in the cornhole league, finds creative outlets for her DIY skills, and enjoys traveling to new places.