Preparing for an upcoming breakfast or lunch with clients? Or cocktails and dinner with the boss?We sought out to resolve all the confusion over table settings, food choices, and paying the check.Because let's face it...
Etiquette can make or break a deal, and you want the focus on your ideas NOT how you're eating.
Basic rules of table etiquette:Let's start with the basics. They seem simple, but it's the first thing we let slip when we get too comfortable:
- Hold utensils properly (don't point with your knife or fork).
- Chew with mouth closed.
- Turn your phone over or tuck it away.
- Don't share awkward personal information (your Spanx shouldn't come up in conversation).
- Give your guest a few options, so they can review menus and choose based on dietary preferences etc. Avoid surprising a vegan with an expensive seafood restaurant and then expecting them to pay their "half." Double bummer.
- Put the meeting invitation on their calendar complete with restaurant link, address, and directions if necessary.
Getting Seated & Situated
- Arrive at the restaurant early and stake out the best spot for your purposes. If you're planning for a private, serious conversation, find a quiet table in the back.
- Pick your venue options carefully. Don't meet at a loud sports bar while the big game is showing.
- Wait until your guest has a chance to order a drink before diving into business.
- Whether or not you order a cocktail will depend on your industry, but it's wise to take cues from your guest or the most senior person at the table.
- Let your guest order first.
The Table & Your Order
- Your bread plate is on the left and your water and wine glass are on the right. Anna Post recommends the acronym "BMW" to remember: Bread (left), Meal (middle), Water (right).
- In regard to utensils, work from the outside in, starting with your outside fork and knife for your first course. (See more on this below).
- Break your bread (no cutting) and butter only the piece of bread you will eat immediately. No bread and butter sandwiches.
- Avoid messy food like spaghetti, ribs, lobster, greasy burgers, pesto, ketchup, or anything drippy in general.
- Avoid carbonated beverages. Skip the soda to avoid burping mid-sentence.
- Avoid Lobster and shell fish in general. Any food that needs to be cracked open or must be eaten with your hands is going to be a mess.
- Fish filets, chicken breasts, small shaped pasta (bow-tie, penne etc), and chopped salad are good choices.
- Typically if you initiated the meeting, you should cover the check and have the server direct the bill to you at the end of the meal.
- If there's an error, excuse yourself and speak with the server privately. Don't gawk at the bill and make your guest feel uncomfortable.
- Fold your napkin loosely and place it to the left of your plate when you get up to use the rest room or leave the table.
Prepare to take on the world because your guest will be entranced with your flawless pitch.XOPS: Planning a dinner party at home? See Anna Post's easy to follow video on table settings here.