• Susie Wilson

People do business with people. Table Manners are important.

A business or interview meal can be stressful enough without taking etiquette into account. Manners at the dining table, even in today's relaxed society, are still an important part of making a good impression on a potential employer or business associate.

Dining Etiquette

"It is not only respect, but courtesy," "I think it's a matter of perception. People do business with people. If someone's not showing common courtesy to other people, you're not necessarily going to entrust your financial resources to that person."

Manners and etiquette are not material employees will learn in school, but give workers the extra “polish" they need to succeed.

I am hired to teach staff about table manners. The training makes employees more confident, professional and comfortable with clients or associates.

"It helps with leadership development such as projecting a positive attitude and a professional image. It's hard to be confident if you don't know the rules of engagement."

The key things to keep in mind, experts say, is to not draw attention to yourself, and to make other people feel at ease.

"You're not going to impress someone by knowing good table manners, but you run the risk of turning them off if you don't have good table manners."

I believe many job candidates come to a business dinner unprepared no talking points, no icebreaker, no knowledge about the other person which fuels nervousness. My advice is to smile, sustain eye contact and relax.

The fact that the employer is inviting you to lunch, dinner or breakfast means they want to see how you act in a social setting. However remember that you are not dining with a friend. Remember to maintain the business element; it's not really a social event.

The purpose of going to a business dinner is to conduct some business, usually an exchange of information. I emphasise that its best to focus on the conversation, not the food, but panicking over etiquette mid-meal can ruin rapport.

The most common etiquette mistakes I see are not knowing how to use utensils properly and not knowing what to do with an unwanted piece of food inside the mouth.

I also notice when people don’t cut their food properly or if they over-indulge on hors d'oeuvres.

The worst, is when people drink too much.- “It gets pretty ugly pretty quick the open bar.

I recall one student who had earned a doctorate in science, but could not land a job after numerous interviews. He finally realised he was making a bad impression during interview lunches - habits such as talking with food in his mouth.

Bad etiquette is everywhere, people using cell /mobile phones during meals, blowing their noses at the table, putting their fingers in their mouths to pick food off their teeth or being rude to the waiters.

I have seen a man who yelled at a waiter for not bringing extra bread for the table.

Most people won't lose a potential job or client because they didn't know which fork to use for salad, but bad table manners are seen as disrespectful.

Common courtesy, the `pleases' and `thank you' are always noticed, and when they are omitted, it's noticed even more.

Once a person masters the rules, etiquette becomes second nature.

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