Here are a few things I’ve seen with my own two eyes while dining out recently: a woman flossing her teeth at the table between courses; a young, well-dressed professional lick all five fingers of his right hand while lunching at a four-star restaurant in the financial district; and what I now refer to as the “lift and lick,” where after taking a portion of Thai food, a diner actually licked the edge of the serving plate before passing it to his companion. Charming, that’s a vision.
What has happened? It may be that people are so casual these days that they no longer care about how they comport themselves at the table, but when it comes to doing business, table manners are a must. Many employers I talk to take hopeful candidates out to lunch for the sole purpose of learning whether or not they are capable of successfully dining with clients.
How do your business generators measure up in this important area?
We’ve seen a sharp upturn in requests for dining etiquette training from both firms and business schools, and are delighted to give people the direction and education they either didn’t get at home or have, shall we say, forgotten.
More than food is left on the table when clients become turned off by rude and distracting behavior during lunch and dinner, then take their business elsewhere. Often I remind people that business dining isn’t about food! (In fact, I recommend people eat before they attend receptions, lunches or dinners so they can concentrate more fully on the business at hand.)
Here are some table etiquette absolutely, never evers I hope you will pass along to those who may dine at the restaurants you and I frequent:
Absolutely, never ever slouch or put elbows on the table, and please, dear God, no ball caps!
Absolutely, never ever answer your cell phone or check hand-held gadgets while dining. Turn your gizmos off and keep them off until you leave the restaurant.
Absolutely, never ever talk with food in your mouth. Take small bites, keep your lips closed when you chew, and speak only after you have swallowed.
Absolutely, never ever make noise when you eat. No slurping, sucking, chomping or smacking. Cut your food quietly, one piece at a time, and don’t stab and jab at your salad or vegetables as though you are playing a carnival game.
Absolutely, never ever pick your teeth or apply make-up at the table. Excuse yourself to the restroom and take care of any and all grooming needs there.
These, I believe, are a good start. I feel better already about my next meal at Ruth’s Chris. For more tips on dining and business etiquette basics, click here.
We provide soft skills training and consulting to professional services firms covering all areas of business communication.
Neels & Company – Strategic Business Communication
P. O. Box 623, Boston, MA 02117
800-975-7031 ext. 701
general inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org