Friday, May 17, 2013

Avoid the Dining Etiquette Faux Pas That Can Cost More Than Your Meal

Well, you might ask yourself what is the relevance of understanding the silent service code? Did you know that most business deals are made while sharing a meal? How often do you have a business encounter with a potential employer or a prospective client?

Not only do you have to be dressed appropriately for the occasion, which entails an entirely different set of guidelines, but it is best that you brush up on the ins and outs of proper table manners or otherwise known as dining etiquette skills.

We all like a tool to help us remember the tricky things in life (like, i before e except after c). Here are 10 tips to help you make sure your lasting impression is one you can feel confident in for years to come.

First: Think of the letters "BMW" when sitting down to a formal place setting. The great thing about this tool is that you can do it silently in your head and no one, but you know your valuable tool. B stands for bread, which is to the left of your plate; M represents meal, which is in the middle; and W stands for water, which is to the right of the plate.

Second: You always want to follow the host's lead. When the host picks up his or her napkin, place your napkin on your lap with the fold facing toward you. When excusing yourself from the table during the meal, place your napkin in your chair. Please note, the napkin does not go back on the table until the meal is finished.

Third: If you are dining with others that you have not met, be sure to introduce yourself to everyone at your table. If appropriate, try to offer some contributing conversation. Don't let the event end without knowing the names of the person or your right and your left. Not only would it be a shame, it would be rude as well.

Forth: The rule of thumb is to use the utensils that are farthest away from the plate when starting a meal. You'll usually see two forks to the left of the plate (a salad and a dinner fork), and a knife and spoon to the right of the plate. A spoon, fork or both placed above the dinner plate are for dessert. Avoid stirring your coffee with the dessert spoon, a coffee spoon should be provided when coffee is served. If not, you can use your dinner spoon on the right side of the plate.

Fifth: If you prefer to forgo coffee or wine, smile at the waiter and say, "No thank you." The server should remove that stemware from your table. Never under any circumstance turn the coffee cup or any glassware over.

Sixth: You should always follow the host lead at the meal. If there is not an official host, it is proper etiquette to wait until everyone at your table has been served before you start eating. This even goes for buffets. If someone has a special order and says please go ahead, then by all means- go ahead.

Seventh: This is not the time or place to ask for a doggie bag or "to go" plate. Remember you are there for business.

Eighth: Don't butter your bread in the air or tear it with your hands. Do tear off a small piece of bread from your dinner roll, and butter it while it's still on your plate. Lift the small piece of bread to your mouth and eat it. Remember to butter one piece at a time, eat it and then continue with the next piece.

Ninth: Chewing with your mouth open is a big no-no. No one wants to see what you have it your mouth. We can wait to hear what you have to say!

Tenth: Finally, turn off cell phones, pagers and Blackberrys. If you positively need to take a call, excuse yourself from the table and leave the room to take the call. If you think you can text or send an email under the table without being noticed, you're wrong.

There are several ways to make a good first impression. Knowing the proper dining etiquette will allow you to be comfortable when eating with your family or at a formal event. The great news is that with this knowledge you will be a savvy professional allow your best self to come through time and time again.

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