Your One-Stop Guide to Basic Business Meal Etiquette

Looking to blaze through your first business deal? Start your record right by acquainting yourself with a comprehensive list of the Dos and Don’ts of all business meals.

1. P for Punctuality
The host of the meal can NEVER be late. If things do crop up, inform the parties involved in the meal at least an hour in advance. It’s always good to give yourself some buffer time than to risk making your potential clients wait for you.

2. Monkey See Monkey Do
Client orders a soup and salad? Don’t order a prime rib. Opt for something similar so they won’t be left hanging while you attempt to finish your huge meal.

3. So many choices, what should I choose?
Be quick and decisive.  If you can’t even decide what to have your lunch, they’re not going to trust you with more important things. Avoid foods with sauces, huge amounts of garlic or onion, as well as spicy food/dairy-laden foods. This will inhibit spillage, bad breath and an unexpected trip to the toilet.

punctual for lunch

4. Do what Nana said – Elbows off and Sit up straight.
She didn’t rap your knuckles for nothing!

5. Leaving the table
Find a suitable lapse in the conversation to leave the table, for whatever reason it is. You don’t have to inform the rest of the table about where you’re going and/or where you’ll be going.

6. Clang! goes your fork.
Do not answer its metallic call, I repeat, DO NOT ANSWER THAT METALLIC SOUND OF DISTRESS. Keep your calm and signal for a waiter to bring you a replacement. This applies for food spillages as well.

7. Eat your greens!
Or at least attempt to nibble at everything on your plate. Showing a marked distaste for a certain ingredient on your plate doesn’t reflect that well on you.

8. Take small mouthfuls
Make sure every portion of food that you place in your mouth can be ingested within 20 seconds. This will circumvent awkward pauses when you struggle to get your food down when your client asks you a question mid-chew. Also, bring your food to your mouth, not the other way round.

9. When you’re done eating
Place your utensils together at a 12 o clock position in the middle of the plate. It serves as a visual cue to both your guest and the waiter.

8-11

10. The host picks up the tab.
Simple and straightforward. Politely decline if the guest offers to foot the bill or pay for his/her share.

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