Most business people consider themselves well-mannered, even if they have never picked up a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. After all, how hard is it to remember to chew with your mouth closed?
There is probably no need for you to pour over any etiquette books but if you are going to host or be a guest at a business dinner, there are some basic rules you need to follow. While it’s true that social functions and interactions are more relaxed than they were in years past, there are still some guidelines you need to adhere to.
- Be punctual. If you are a guest, show up a few minutes early. If you are a host, arrive no later than 15 minutes before dinner is scheduled to begin.
- Dress for the occasion. Since you are attending a business dinner, dress as you would for any type of business meeting.
- Silence your phone. Don’t just turn your phone off, keep your phone off the table and out of site.
- Shake hands. Give everyone a quick handshake and short greeting when they arrive. If you are the host, make sure everyone has been greeted before you sit down. If you are a guest, wait for your host to sit and then sit at the same time.
- Fill everyone’s glasses. Before you pour water for yourself, always fill up the glasses of everyone else at the table.
- Tread carefully when it comes to alcohol. Do not be the first one to order alcohol and only order it if your host does. You also should limit yourself to one drink. If there are people in attendance who you think would be uncomfortable with alcohol being served abstain.
- Mind your manners. While no one is going to be judging your every move, make sure you know the basic rules of etiquette. Elbows off the table, napkin on your lap while eating, etc.
- Order and eat smart. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, don’t order anything messy (ribs are a no-no) and always wait for the host to begin eating before you start. You also should avoid eating too fast.
- Don’t fight over the bill. If you are a guest, simply thank your host for the dinner and if you are the host, politely decline anyone who offers to pay.
Business dinners are not everyone’s cup of tea. Knowing the basic guidelines will help make sure that these meals go as smoothly as possible.