Being professional is a big part of the working world, no matter what the job is. And there are certain social guidelines people are expected to follow - especially when it comes to dining. Jamestown Business College held an etiquette luncheon at Moon Brook Country Club on Wednesday afternoon for their students to learn these guidelines.
Students from the EDGE program - which stands for etiquette, dress, goals and ethics - sat with faculty members and guests from the community to learn the art of proper business etiquette while eating out at a business meeting.
"The soft skills are just as important to employers," said Marcia Daly, an instructor at JBC during the preamble of the luncheon. "These are the skills that we refer to such things as knowing how to behave, proper manners, knowing how to mingle and carrying on a conversation, being nice, getting along with people, and being friendly."
Daly told the students many business ventures are discussed during a meal, and it comes down to knowing their place and how to act.
"You really have to have a perception on how to act. It is so important to know the proper behavior because it reflects on your image," she told the students. "... You need to remember that actions send messages all the time."
Daly gave students some of the following tips on how to behave when out to eat on a business venture:
Arrive about 10 minutes early; early is on time and on time is late.
RSVP as soon as possible. If you wait too long it gives the impression that you were waiting for a better offer to come up.
Stay for the entire function.
Turn off cellphones and put them out of sight. If there is an unavoidable emergency, inform the host or hostess prior to the meal, and keep the phone on the lowest possible sound setting. When it does go off, excuse yourself quietly from the group and go somewhere private to talk.
Greet and mingle with others. However, when you sit down, don't talk to people at other tables.
When you do sit down, put the napkin in your lap. If you need to get up for any reason, fold it and place it on your chair. When you leave, you will fold it and put it on the table.
Wait for everyone's food to arrive before eating. When you are eating out, don't order anything too expensive or too cheap. If the event is going to be catered, inform the host or hostess of all food allergies prior to the function and not when you are there.
When eating, the usage of the utensils goes from the outside in. If you are unsure which utensil to use, wait for others at the table to begin and follow suit.
Try everything. You don't need to eat everything, but you also don't need to act like someone who is starved either. Match the pace of the rest of the group, and don't ask for a box for leftovers.
There is only one course acceptable to decline, and this is dessert.
Keep drink requests simple.
If something gets caught in your teeth, discretely use a fork to get it out. Then hide it quietly under a piece of lettuce or a chip.
If something like a utensil or a roll gets dropped on the floor, if it is within easy reach, pick it up. If not, discretely kick it under the table.
Besides those listed, Daly also emphasized two other points: send a personal hand-written thank you note within the first 48 hours and never make someone uncomfortable.