Business world-wide can be very image-driven. In Part 1 of this series I wrote, “We live in a world where we are compared and judged. Your polished dining skills will add to creating a very positive impression of both you and the brand which you represent.” These skills apply to both your professional and social lives.
You may see yourself in some of the questions and answers listed below. Read these, practice, relax and enjoy your dining experience.
- What if I use the wrong piece of silverware? If you need a knife or a fork for the next course because you have used the wrong piece of silverware for an earlier course, ask the server for a replacement. Ask politely; there is no need to explain.
- What do I do with unused cutlery? If you have not used your knife or other pieces of cutlery during your meal, upon completion of that course, place any unused silverware on the plate in the finished position. Cutlery is never left on the table when a course is completed. This holds true for both the American and Continental styles of dining.
- May I accept food from someone else’s plate? At a business meal, never accept food from a friend’s or client’s plate. Simply say, “No thank you.” Remember to smile. Never offer others a sample of food from your plate. Eating from someone else’s plate is not correct in either social or business behavior. Your client may actually be offended should you make such an intimate and unhygienic offer.
- How do I correctly pass food? When passing items for the first time, pass all items to the right. If an individual diner requests an item that is nearest to you, simply pass the item in the most efficient way possible. Even if the diner only requests one of them, salt and pepper are always passed together. Items with handles such as a creamer, a syrup pitcher, or a gravy boat, are passed with the handle pointing toward the recipient.
- How do I pass bread and rolls? As the person closest to the basket of rolls, offer the basket first to the person on your left by saying, “Would you like a roll?” After he or she selects a roll, take one for yourself and then offer the basket to the person on your right, saying, “Would you like a roll?” After your dining companion selects a roll or a bread stick say, “Please pass the basket to the right.”
- May I season food at the table? Since you do not want to insult your host, taste your food before using any seasonings. This is especially true if the meal is held during a business meeting or an interview. Could you be making assumptions (about the seasoning) before you have all of the facts? Your interviewer or potential client may be observing your use of judgment.
- Where do I put used packets of sweetener? When sweetener in packets is passed, take no more than two packets. You want to make sure there are enough packets for everyone at the table. After passing the sweetener container to your right, tear off a corner of your packet and empty the contents into your coffee or tea. Fold the small packet and slide it just under the saucer on which your coffee cup or iced beverage glass sits. Do not shake your packets of sweetener against the table before pouring the sweetener into your cup. Do not move your coffee cup or iced beverage glass around the table once you have hidden your used sweetener packet.
- What are the guidelines for ordering alcohol? During the social hour you may have a cocktail, and at dinner functions it is appropriate to order a glass of wine with dinner. In certain situations such as a midday business meeting or at a job interview, do not order alcohol. If you are hosting a business guest and your company does allow the purchase of alcohol during a business meal, then you may ask your guest if he or she would like a cocktail or some wine.
- May I drink beer at a business occasion? If your host orders beer at a casual business function and you also want beer, ask the server for the brand you prefer or ask what they have on draft. Drink your beer from a glass, never from the can, unless you are watching a softball game at your company’s annual picnic. Consume alcohol in moderation.
- How do I decline alcohol or other beverages? If wine or other beverages are being poured at an event, never cover a glass with your hand. The server may end up pouring water or wine on you. Lightly place your fingertips on just the rim of the glass, smile at the server and say “No thank you.” You may politely decline your host’s offer of alcohol by saying, “Thank you, I think I’ll have some iced tea this afternoon.” Never turn over a cup or a glass of any kind. Simply say, No thank you.” Never order a drink at a business meal if your host does not order a drink.
Business and social dining occasions can be the perfect time to both conduct business and to enjoy your clients and colleagues.
For answers to other “Most Frequently Asked Dining Questions, you can visit my website blog at: www.MannersForBusiness.com
Excerpts of blog or article may have been taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, Ph.D.
“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”
— Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
See the book at: www.HospitalityManners.com
Visit Lyn at: www.MannersForBusiness.com
Lyn Pont, Ph.D. – World’s Top 30 Hospitality Professionals, Global Gurus
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