8 Table Manners to Know & Show

It’s important to know how to handle yourself during a business meal. Over the course of your career, you’ll go to hundreds of lunches, dinners, receptions, banquets, and networking functions. You may interview for a job over a meal, be considered for a promotion, or use the setting to build new business. Knowing how to dine properly can allow you to concentrate on what’s really important—building relationships and, eventually, business. Here are 8 tips to help you make a good impression.

1. Keep phones out of sight and on silent. It’s important to project that nothing is more important than who you’re with right now. If you’re expecting an important call, share that upfront, then take the call away from the table.

2. Decode your place setting correctly. Think “BMW”—Bread, Meal, Water. Your bread plate is on the left side, entrée will be in the center, your water glass is on the right side.

3. If you start something around the table, like salt/pepper or the bread basket, help yourself last. If you want to bend that rule, offer it first to the person on your left, then help yourself second, then send it on around.

4. The bread plate at the upper left corner can also be used to gather any trash you accumulate during the meal, like sugar wrappers or creamer cups.

5. When eating bread or rolls, first tear off a 1- or 2-bite morsel, butter only that, then eat in successive bites. Never rip the entire roll open, butter it completely, then munch on it throughout the meal.

6. Never flip cups or glasses upside down when you know you won’t use them. Better to leave them as is, then decline any beverage you don’t care for. And if it is served to you by accident, just ignore it. You weren’t going to drink it anyway.

7. Don’t use your napkin as a tissue for your nose. Napkins are for your mouth; tissues are for the nose. The wait staff thanks you!

8. If you’re served something you don’t like or can’t eat, simply ignore it. Or better yet, mess it up a little. No one will notice you didn’t actually eat a bite.

© 2016 Jill Bremer