How to Master Dining Etiquette

When you think about proper dining etiquette, devouring your food over a business lunch likely doesn’t come to mind. That’s not what we think of either, so to help avoid any unfortunate mishaps, we wanted to provide you some dining etiquette tips that will work on the at every professional dining affair.

  • If you make a reservation, treat it like any other appointment and stick to it. Call ahead if you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late, and cancel as far in advance as possible if your plans change so that someone else can get a table.
  • In a restaurant setting, as soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from your place setting, and put it in your lap. At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the place setting. It should not be crumpled or twisted.
  • Eat to your left, drink to your right. Any food dish to the left is yours, and any glass to the right is yours. Use the silverware farthest from your plate first-working from the outside in, using one utensil for each course.
  • Pass food from the left to the right. Do not stretch across the table or across other guests to reach food or condiments. Pass the salt and pepper together.
  • When food is caught between the teeth, wait to remove it privately, rather than rely on a toothpick in front of others.
  • Switch conversation partners from time to time during the meal. Try and stay clear of sensitive or controversial topics, such as money, religion, gossip and politics.
  • Lastly, don’t dive into business conversation immediately. A business lunch or dinner is as much about the opportunity to build a business relationship as it is to actually do business.

Business lunches and dinners can be very productive and positive for the simple fact that they take place outside of the office setting. When all is said and done, relax and have fun.