Business Dining Etiquette

Jun 30 2017.

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Meeting with clients or business partners can be daunting. You have to set the right tone so that the experience is without any hitches or embarrassing situations for the parties involved. Since important decisions are made over meals, impressions made, it's best you know your do's and don'ts. While many of these are obvious, not many pay heed to them, which could harm your business prospects. Here are a few pointers to help you get started. 

● Always arrive on time. This way, your mind will be at ease since you don't have to rush or worry about other hurdles you may encounter. If a delay is inevitable, then do inform the other party. 

● Do not hurry to know the arrival status of your clients. Wait at least 15 minutes before calling up. 

● Remember why you are here and dress accordingly. If you are unsure of the venue, then call ahead and check on their dress code. Being underdressed at an upscale restaurant, for instance, is a complete no-no. 

● If your host has not yet arrived, then wait for them to get there so you can both be seated at the same time. 

● If it is a high end dining spot, the servers will place the napkin on your lap. Otherwise, do it yourself, folding the napkin in half if it is large. Do not ever tuck the napkin into your collar or between buttons. 

● Turn off your mobile phones or leave it on silent while you are dining. It is rude to make or answer calls in the presence of your hosts/guests. You are indicating to them that they are not your priority. 

● Ensure that you maintain proper posture throughout without slouching on your chair or sitting on the edge of it, for instance. 

● Keep your elbows off the table. Purses and bags aren't meant to be left on the table either. High end restaurants will usually give you a table to place your belongings. If not, place it by your feet. 

● Avoid finger foods. Order simple items that are easy to eat using forks and knives or even chopsticks from the menu. This saves you from any embarrassment if you're a sloppy eater. 

● Do not reshuffle the order of dining utensils according to your handedness. 

● Don't come in starving. You're better off eating something light before you get to the restaurant. This way your hunger won't cloud your judgement in decision making. 

● Start your meal after everyone starts his or hers, and pace it out so you finish with the rest of them. 

● If you are unsure about a certain food item on the menu, this is not the best time to experiment. But if you do want to try, make sure you've asked the right questions so you don't end up with a dangerous allergic reaction. 

● Do not order expensive menu items or alcohol at business meals. 

● Don't ever blow into your soup no matter how hot it is. Stir your soup gently until it has cooled enough. Drink from the edge of the spoon instead of putting the whole spoon in your mouth. 

● Dinner rolls are meant to be broken off when needed and each individual piece torn off must be buttered individually. Do not cut the dinner roll in half with a knife, butter the insides and eat it like a burger bun. 

● If you want to get a waiters attention, be discreet about it. Do not shout out or wave aggressively. 

● Decide beforehand how the bill is going to be paid.


Rihaab Mowlana

Rihaab Mowlana is a journalist specializing in feature writing. With a commitment to authenticity and a genuine love for her craft, she brings stories to life by delving deep into captivating subjects and offering unique perspectives. Beyond journalism, Rihaab is a content creator, entrepreneur, and educator. Stay connected with Rihaab on Twitter & Instagram: @rihaabmowlana


  1. sgds says:

    And the one last dinner etiquette: when finger bowls are served with lemon, refrain from complaining about the 'low' sugar; just take it in one gulp:)

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