Whether you have a job interview, a lunch with a potential client, or any kind of a business meeting in a restaurant, dining etiquette, or the lack of it can make or break you, as the first impression is usually the most lasting one. According to a thin-slicing theory, we form a pretty accurate opinion of a person after only two seconds of knowing him/her. On top of that, people make quick judgements and in most situations in life, you may not have another chance to explain and excuse yourself. This is the reason why you should be familiar with the basics of business dinner etiquette. It will definitely come in handy.
Before and upon the Arrival
Do not use the mobile phone during a business meeting since it is considered inappropriate. Turn it off before the meeting, or leave it in your car. When you sit down, try to avoid placing the keys, the mobile phone, the bag, or the sunglasses on the table. The next thing you should do is to place a napkin on your lap. While talking, do not place your elbows on the table.
If possible, wait for your business partner to order first. This trick is useful when it comes to appetizers. If your partner has not order it, you should not do it neither. Order an ordinary meal (not too expensive one) you are familiar with. Avoid the dishes, which are difficult to eat. Generally speaking, you should not order alcohol. However, if you are familiar with wine and food pairing, or you simply want to order an alcoholic drink, you can surely try one of those splendid liquor specials, but don’t forget to drink moderately.
Table Manners while Eating
A proper eating style implies the etiquette for using utensils. Each continent has its own eating style, so Australians usually follow the European eating style, whereby they do not switch a knife and a fork while eating. While taking a drink, cross the fork over the knife. When done eating, lay the fork and knife parallel to each other at the right side of the plate. As with before eating, when not holding utensils, place your arms on the lap, not on the table. If you need to pass the dish, pass it to your left.
The use of Napkins
As we have said at the beginning, you should first place a napkin on your lap. Throughout the meal, use it frequently. However, do not use it as a tissue. If you need to leave the table, you should excuse yourself and place the napkin on the seat. On the other hand, if you are finished eating, place the napkin to the left of your plate.
- Sit up straight and avoid common body language mistakes.
- Never start business talk until the main dish has been served.
- Do not touch your hair, or face at the table.
- Do not blow on the soup. Stir it to cool it down. Spoon the soup away from you.
- Take small bites.
- Do not push away the plate when you are done.
- Prearrange how the bill is to be paid. Tip 15% for moderate service, or 20% for excellent service.
By knowing dinner etiquette, you show respect to other person at the table. Even though you have turned out to be the best candidate based on your qualifications, the lack of etiquette can cost you the job. Avoid the mistakes we have listed, be yourself and the meeting will be a success.