A valuable tool for younger risk professionals to build a career is to learn proper business etiquette and manners. Some young professionals take a business etiquette, dining and manners course. If you do take a class, look for a course led by a certified manners and etiquette instructor.
It is a disadvantage in the business world to have unpolished manners. It is embarrassing and off- putting to your dining companions if you drink from the wrong glass or use the wrong bread plate. You do not want to make a bad impression on a potential networking connection because you drank their water or had a limp-fish handshake. You will feel much more confident and at ease if you know the rules of dining and business etiquette. This is especially important if you do business in other countries where the cultural norms and expectations may be very different.
Here are some basic dining etiquette rules to help you through your next professional business meal:
• Use the silverware farthest from your plate first and work in towards the plate.
• Forks are on the left side of your plate with the salad fork farthest out.
• Dessert silverware is usually placed above the plate.
• Spoons and knifes are on the right of your plate except for a butter knife on your bread plate.
• Cut only enough food for your next bite.
• Use your spoon to scoop soup away from you.
• Rest your used silverware on your plate.
Bread Plates & Glasses
An easy rule to remember is to eat to your left and drink to your right. Therefore, your bread plate will be on your left and your water glass on your right.
Unfold your napkin, do not shake it, as soon as you sit down in a restaurant. At a private dinner party, put your napkin on your lap when your host does. Do not use your napkin to wipe the silverware or your face. Of course, you should never blow your nose with your napkin. If you need to get up from the table, say “excuse me”, loosely fold the napkin and place it to the left or right of your plate. Do not refold your napkin, wad it up on the table or put it on your chair. At the end of the meal, leave the napkin loosely folded on the left side of your plate.
Remember the Basics
One of the most important rules of good manners is to make the other person feel comfortable. Therefore, think of how you would like to be treated when you interact with other professionals. At a minimum, remember those simple lessons that you learned from your mother and kindergarten teacher:
• Be on time
• Keep your appointments
• Introduce yourself with a handshake
• Say “It is a pleasure to meet you”
• Introduce other people present to each other
• Take turns talking
• Talk in an inside voice
• Include everyone in the conversation
• Wait until everyone is served before starting to eat
• Treat your servers politely and with respect
• Don’t talk with your mouth full
• Don’t play with your food
• Don’t put your elbows on the table
• Tell your host or guest “thank you”
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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