When you're the host of a business dinner, suddenly everyone looks to you as the model of respectability. Following dinner etiquette rules sends a clear message to your employees, coworkers, or clients that you respect them. On the other hand, ignoring dinner etiquette tips can paint you as uncaring or unprofessional.
Fortunately, dinner etiquette can be simple. Just follow these steps.
1. Order "Clean" Food
If you're having your meal catered, order food that is easy to eat without causing a mess. Chicken and fish are good choices, while spaghetti and hamburgers are not. You should also avoid foods like spinach that could easily get stuck in teeth.
2. Include Your Guests
Greet each guest as he or she arrives by shaking his or her hand, and then introduce each guest to others at the table.
When all guests are present, start a conversation by talking about a topic that includes everyone. Don't talk predominantly to just one or two guests while ignoring the others, and make sure not to monopolize the conversation. Encourage your guests to share their insights and opinions.
Your guests will probably follow your lead on how quickly to eat, so set a reasonable pace to follow.
3. Turn Off Your Cell Phone
We've all seen the harried, devil-may-care boss who's constantly answering his or her phone at the table. Chances are his or her dinner guests feel abandoned and possibly annoyed.
It's important to turn off your phone and put it away during the meal. This shows your guests that you care about them enough to dedicate an hour or two just to them—without other distractions.
4. Use Your Napkin Correctly
Your guests will follow the table manners you demonstrate. One of the most important ways you show good manners is by how you use your napkin.
You should place your napkin on your lap during the meal. If you need to leave during the meal, place the napkin on your chair.
If you need to clean your mouth, dab gently with the corners of your napkin. Don't use your napkin as a tissue to sneeze or cough into. You should cough or sneeze into your left hand.
5. Use the Right Utensils
At a formal dinner, you might have several more utensils than you usually see at a place setting. Knowing which utensils to use can be confusing.
Simply put, use the outside utensils first and work your way in. The utensils on the outside are for the first course, the next ones are for the second course, and so on. The dessert fork and coffee spoon are placed above the plate.
It's also important to know that the bread plate is to the left of your main plate. Glasses are on the right side of the plate, with the water glass on the left.
6. Use Utensils Correctly
The way you eat signifies your respect for the chef and server as well as for your guests.
In the United States, the most common way to cut a piece of meat is to hold the food using a fork in your left hand and cut using a knife in your right hand. You then transfer your fork to your right hand to take a bite. In Europe, you eat while keeping the fork in your left hand. Either way is acceptable.
If you're going to use butter from a communal dish, slice all the butter you'll need and place it on your bread plate. That way, you won't need to use the communal dish every time you need to butter something.
Finally, pay attention to how you eat soup. Scoop the soup by moving your spoon from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Then, bring the spoon to your mouth and drink the soup from the spoon's edge. This prevents you from spilling.
Follow these tips at your business dinner and you'll project an image of both confidence and sophistication. Get started planning your next business dinner by contacting McHale's Events and Catering.