What's the Business Etiquette for Eating and Drinking?
Part 1: What to do before the meal
It's important to know how to handle yourself when having a business meal. Whether you are going out for drinks, sitting down to lunch, or having a big dinner - how you act can have an impact on your career. Learning the basics of business etiquette for eating and drinking can help you get ahead in life. In this first part we explore the commonly accepted rules for what to do before the actual meal takes place.
Before the meal:
1. Shake hands with everyone at the table. Introduce yourself to anyone that doesn't know you. And concentrate on remembering people's names so you can address them later.
2. Remain standing until your host sits down. Follow their lead in general as far as where to move and how to act. It’s usually best to follow their lead throughout the meal. Place your napkin on your lap after everyone sits down and the host moves their napkin.
3. Don't waste other people's time going over the menu or asking questions about the meal. You don’t want to slow down the process or bring undue attention to yourself.
4. Follow the host's lead when ordering. Let them order first and then get the same kind of offerings that they do. If they order a big meal with heavy items, then it’s not a good idea for you just to order a light salad.
5. Avoid sloppy hard to eat foods like pasta or ribs. You don’t want to make a mess of yourself or or make a poor impression.
6. Don't order the most expensive item or unfamiliar items. Stick with safe food that you know will not cause you any problems.
7. Don't order alcohol. If everyone else is drinking alcohol you can order one drink. But make sure you maintain composure and can handle yourself properly.
8. Make sure you maintain good posture. Sit straight with no leaning back or on the table. Keep your elbows off the table.
9. Mute your cellphone and put it away. Do not place any personal items on the table or anywhere else visible. You don’t want to cause any distractions.