Business Dinner Etiquette


Knowing proper business dinner etiquette can give you a competitive edge when trying to land your dream job, excel in business or close a sale. Lillian Chaney says in the "The Essential Guide to Business Table Manners," 60 percent of top executives surveyed said they would not permit employees who did not have good table manners to represent their firm in public.

Dining In, Setting the Table

  • If you are holding the business dinner in your home, follow the rules of etiquette when setting the table. Arrange silverware with the first used utensil furthest away from the plate. The basic items in a table setting in proper order are a: salad fork, fork, plate, dinner knife and soup spoon.

Dining Out, Ordering Your Meal

  • According to Ann Marie Sabbath, author of Business Etiquette in Brief, when meeting someone for a business lunch, wait in the lobby unless you have agreed upon a prior arrangement. If you are seated first, wait for all parties to be seated before ordering your meal. If you are not the host, ask the host what they recommend before placing your order, so that you will have an idea as to an appropriate price range for your meal. Order only the basics: a salad, main course and beverage. Only order an appetizer or dessert when following the lead of the host. Try to mirror the eating pace of the host. If you are a slow eater, ask the host questions in order to slow down his eating pace to match your own.

Basic Table Manners

  • These rules of etiquette for business dining outlined by the University of Delaware Career Center are a matter of common sense for most individuals. When at the table, turn off cell phones, sit up straight, no elbows on the table, do not groom yourself at the table, do not talk with your mouth full, take small bites and cut your salad into bite sized pieces if necessary.

American "Zigzag" Style

  • In America, the most common style of dining is the "zigzag" style, which is sometimes referred to as the American style. Using the "zigzag" style, hold your knife in the right hand and fork, tines (prong on the fork) down, in the left hand. After cutting your food, place the knife in the upper right edge of the plate. Switch the fork to the right hand and eat a piece of food with the fork, tines up.

European "Continental" Style

  • Europe, Latin America and many other countries use the European "Continental" style of dining etiquette. The primary distinction between this style and the zigzag style is that the fork remains in the left hand with the tines down. In America, this style is only considered acceptable when the person is a foreigner or a citizen who was born in another country.

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