When we are invited to our boss’ birthday party at his place, we can’t be dressed up the way we would had it been our best friend’s birthday party. There needs to be a change in not only our dressing but also the manner in which we conduct ourselves.
In other words, we need to treat an invitee for any social gathering that involves meeting your co-workers just as you would treat a day at the office, the only difference being that, here you have a liberty to discuss family life and other topics that you generally won’t get time to talk about in your professional life.
Two situations that arise, invoke the need to understand the need for dining etiquette and learn it – one, if you are the host of a get-together and the second one, if you are the guest.
Choose a restaurant that is conducive to holding sizeable meetings and provides good service. Make sure that you have made all the adequate bookings and seating arrangements. Clarify the billed amount and availability of desired menu before the meeting itself.
● Arrive fifteen minutes early on the day of the meeting and introduce people to one another if some of them have not been introduced to each other earlier. Offer the seat with the best view to your most important guest.
● While ordering food, try to recommend, what is the best of all the dishes there are on the menu if someone is undecided on what to choose. If that is too direct an approach, then you could help him out in a different way by letting him know what you are ordering, so that he takes the hint.
● Always be done with the ordering, before you start to discuss business with someone. Or else there will be many disturbances with the waiter asking you repeatedly for your order. In addition, the guests will be caught in two minds as to order or to listen to your business discussion.
● If the meeting is to celebrate an achievement or to dedicate it to someone, or is a congratulatory party thrown in honor of someone, it is always nice to speak something about it and make a small toast. It is perfectly all right to toast while sitting. Just hold your glass up and when others follow suit, you can say something to the point and end it.
● Be attentive to the needs of everyone around the table and keep an eye out on their preferences, which will help you to decide upon the right place for any future meetings. You might see that your chief guest has a taste for seafood so you might set up your next meeting at a place where the seafood is good.
● Always try to engage everybody in a conversation and be the facilitator in leading people to participate in the discussion, bring their points of view and experience into play too. This will help people to come out of their initial inhibitions of meeting someone for the first time and will encourage them to be themselves.
Always, promptly reply to an invitation. Your answering will help the host in organizing and coordinating the meeting so try to answer as early as possible.
● Always arrive before time and always inform before time, if you are going to be more than five minutes late. Always take the opportunity to ask your host to recommend you on what you should order to break the ice.
● Many times, you will come across a generous host who will ask you to order what you please. Although you have been given a free rein on your choice of dishes, be considerate while ordering and do not take up this opportunity to order something extravagantly expensive. You are more likely to lose ground with the host that way.
● Always order something in the mid-budget range that would not draw attention towards itself and be easy to eat. Do not order runny, messy food as that might soil your clothes. Try to order food that can be easily eaten with cutlery, as opposed to those dishes where you have to use hands to eat.
● The reason is that there could be a chance that someone arrives late at the table, seats himself beside you, and offers you his hand to greet you. In a situation like this, it would be unsightly to see your hands smeared with food.
● Business dining follows almost the same template of etiquette as business dressing in the sense that, you are not supposed to draw attention towards yourself due to your choice of food while dining, just like you were not supposed to draw attention towards yourself with your clothes in a meeting.
● Always remember that a business dinner or lunch is basically, a professional, formal meeting in a restaurant, instead of a room. Carry the same body language that you would carry when you would sit in for a business discussion with someone. Have a smile on your face but be on your guard.
● As a rule of thumb, the host is the one who steers the conversation from small talk to business discussion, so wait until he hints before discussing business. When invited to someone’s home, it’s considered improper to turn up empty-handed. You are not expected to gift something expensive- just a jar, or even desserts would be great.
If there comes a scenario where you have arrived at the table and you see many unknown faces, and the host is not around to introduce you to others, take up the initiative and introduce yourself to others, instead of sitting quietly in a corner and pretending others do not exist.