Lessons in Etiquette : The Business "Meal"

You've guessed it ! Today we'll be looking at the business "meal". I would say Business "Dinner" since that's the most common ,but that would be limited to just one thing and in today's' world there's always food involved in business meetings or whatever .

During my short time at Sagicor , there were Business Breakfasts , Business Luncheons , Business Dinners , and Business Award Ceremonies. There were a lot of Business stuff that involved food. Poor little me ...lol I love to eat but i always wanted to look sophisticated . This one time there was a Business Breakfast and while i was there enjoying my Chocolate Chip muffin with my fingers ... i looked around and saw all the "Elders" eating their muffins with a fork!!!! Why ? That's optional in my opinion!! Anyhoo , let's get into it before i go telling you all my embarrassing food moments :-)

A Business Meal is a meeting where business is conducted , while eating. It is said that during this time employers get to do a visual observation of their employees behaviors , how the relate to others and the restaurant staff.

The Conversation : The primary objective is to participate in a "fruitful" conversation . This simply means no "loose" conversations that regards your personal life . While at a Luncheon ,there were two girls talking about what they did with their boyfriends on a regular basis , there is nothing wrong with that , but in that setting , that is HIGHLY inappropriate . Of course , they were asked to leave the table and continue the conversation elsewhere. You can of course talk about casual topics like the weather , maybe share a recipe or give your comment on a current issue. Also , avoid getting into a heated debate , simply "agree to disagree" , then move on.

Table Manners : Contrary to what others might believe , your elbows can rest on the table. However! this is before the meal is served. Once there is food on the table , remove them! You may however place  the "edge" of your elbow on the table , just to be comfortable . It would be pretty awkward to just sit there with your hands and fingers trying to navigate your way to eating that meal .
Be sure that you are polite to your colleagues and the restaurant staff by saying " Please and Thank You " before and after your requests. Always remember that Salt and Pepper are a team . If you ask for one , take both .Try to be careful with your portions , be sure to taste your meal before dunking salt and pepper all over your meal. It insults the chef and also the staff , you are basically saying that " You can't cook to suit me". Napkins are generally placed on your lap and not as a bib around your neck!!! If you choose to leave the table  , place your napkin on the table and not on your plate. Sometimes the waiter will return and re-fold your napkin . Don't start eating your meal until everyone at your table has been served. Turn off your cell phone at the table or put your phone on vibrate if you are expecting an important call . Cell phones are my biggest pet peeve . Imagine this .. you are their sitting at the table having an engaging conversation with your colleagues , when all of a sudden a cell phone rings and the person picks up and goes " Yeah man , mi nah do nutten important , mi jus a eat some food , you a guh di dance laytah? Like seriously? If you must answer your phone ,politely excuse yourself from the table and go to the bathroom.

Eating the Meal : It is always confusing trying to figure out the "ownership" of plates and utensils . Why must they place them so weird? It always looks like the plate is yours but as it turns out , it's your neighbors'.

  • Glasses - on your right hand side, and working from the outside towards the dinner plate (center) can be a red wine, white wine, and water glass.
  • Bread and Butter Plate - this will be on your left hand side. Never butter your entire bread at once. Break it into small pieces and butter them as you go along!
  • Napkin - your napkin will either be placed on the plate in front of you or it will be on your left hand side.
  • Forks - will be placed on your left hand side.
  • Spoons and Knives - will be placed on your right hand side.

Generally, forks and spoons are used toward the dinner plate.  So if forks are on the left, they are used from left to right (in towards the plate).  Spoons and knives are placed on the right, so they are used from right to left (again, towards the plate).

If you've decided to order soup, always place the spoon on the plate when not being used.  Don't leave the spoon in the bowl because you run the risk of bumping the spoon and sending soup flying across the table.  Accidents can happen, and if you can avoid this problem during a business meal, you should take all the precautions possible.

Dress Professionally . You can still wear trendy clothing to these meetings , but the same rules applies , no low cut tops , pants should not be so tight that its obvious the type of underwear you are wearing. Skirts and dresses should be on the knee , 1 inch above or 2 inches above.

* Information Business Meal  Etiquette * 

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