There are many instances in your career when dining etiquette will be of importance. Whether you’re networking, attending a “get-to-know-you” lunch, a dinner interview, or a business meeting over food, you need to be able to eat while still presenting yourself professionally. Here are some tips to keep in mind so you don’t embarrass your mother and all she taught you!
- Sit up straight.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Keep your elbows off the table.
- Don’t season food you have not tasted yet.
- Spoon soup away from you, to keep it from getting on you.
- Don’t reach for things that aren’t directly in front of you; ask someone to pass it to you.
- Never spit a piece of bad food out on your plate. If possible, use the mode of transport used to put it in your mouth (like your fork) to take it back out discretely.
Use your napkin. Place the napkin, folded in half with the crease toward you, in your lap as soon as everyone is seated. Keep it there throughout the meal, except for when you’re using it to lightly blot your mouth. If you have to leave the table, place the napkin folded on your chair or to the left of your plate. Once everyone has finished their meals, place the napkin nicely to the right of your plate.
Remember, you’re drink is to your right and your salad or bread plate is to your left.
Ordering. If there are items on the menu that you are uncertain about, politely ask your server any questions you may have. It is better to find out before you order that a dish is prepared with something you do not like or are allergic to than to spend the entire meal picking tentatively at your food. Be polite about it; don’t say, “Does this have onions in it? Because, I hate those” or, “I don’t know what any of this is, would you eat any of it?” Keep in mind that if what you order will be messy to eat, this setting probably isn’t the best to order it in.
Using silverware. Start on the outside and work your way in. Also, once a piece of silverware has touched food, it should not touch the table again. Set it neatly across your plate (don’t lean it on the table. Make bridges, not ramps). Even if you’re eating a food (like fries) that you normally would use your fingers for, use your silverware, but if you’re in doubt, follow your host’s lead.
Cutting your food. American style is used most frequently in this country. To cut a piece of food, place the fork in your left hand with the tines down to hold the food. Place the knife in your right hand to cut the food. After cutting one piece, lay your knife across the top of the plate with the sharp edge of the blade facing in and transfer the fork to your right hand to eat the piece of food. (If you are left-handed, keep your fork in your left hand, tines facing up.) Only cut the next piece of food after you have chewed and swallowed the first piece. To “rest” during the meal, whether to take a drink or to listen intently to your companions, place your knife across the top of the plate with the blade toward you and your fork on the right side of the plate with the tines up.
Eating bread. When you eat a roll or bread, tear it into pieces instead of taking a bite out of the whole. Only start eating the bread once your host has.
When you are finished. The polite way to show that you are finished with your meal is to lay your fork and knife diagonally across your plate. Place your knife and fork side by side, with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork, tines up, to the left of the knife.
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