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Dining etiquette guidelines

Whether grabbing a quick lunch with colleagues or at a formal dinner, maintaining a professional image is important. Here’s a refresher of business dining etiquette tips to help you mind your manners and make a good impression at your next business meal:

  1. If you have a table host/hostess, wait for him/her to begin eating. If you do not have a host/hostess, wait until everyone at the table is served.
  2. Unfold and place napkin on your lap when seated, folded in half once, with the open end of the fold facing away from you.
  3. Take part in the dinner conversation, but avoid controversial topics like politics and religion.
  4. Use your utensils from the outside in as you move through each course, and pass items using the serving dish.
  5. Cut only enough food for the next mouthful. Eat in small bites and slowly. 
  6. When eating bread, tear off a small piece of bread, butter it, and eat that piece; then repeat.
  7. When consuming soup, always move the spoon away from yourself. Bring the spoon to your mouth and drink the soup from the side edge of the spoon instead of putting the whole spoon in your mouth.  And, of course, do not slurp.
  8. When eating a salad, you may cut large pieces of lettuce with your fork and knife, one bite at a time. A word of caution:, don’t stab your tomatoes!
  9. When eating the main course, leave your plate positioned as it is presented to you. If you don’t care for something on your plate, discreetly push it to the side, but don’t play with it.
  10. If you are not a coffee or hot tea drinker, turn your cup upside down on the saucer which indicates to the server you do not want those beverages.
  11. If you need to excuse yourself from the table, try to do so between courses.
  12. Be sure to thank your host before leaving and send a handwritten thank-you note the next day.

Pro Tip: Order foods that are easy to eat, such as chicken, fish or salads. Avoid dishes with a messy reputation such as spaghetti or a burger.

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