Dining for Success, Part 4: 15 Tips for a Successful Business Meal

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Part 4 of 4, by Bill Rohlfing

Your table manners represent you: a polished, poised, and sophisticated executive. Parts 2 through 4 provide 15 tips to avoid the most common dining etiquette mistakes.

10. A cough or sneeze should be directed into your left shoulder and shielded by your left hand. This gesture keeps your right hand germ-free for a goodbye handshake at the end of the meal. (Yes, people notice where your right hand has been when anticipating a handshake!)

11. If an accident at the table occurs, handle it and forget about it. It’s not necessary to drone on and on about the spilled tea in your lap. Try to divert the attention to something positive.

12. A dropped utensil stays on the floor. If you drop your knife or fork on the restaurant floor, it’s not necessary to dive under the table to retrieve it. Ask the server for another utensil and continue with conversation.

13. Review some difficult menu terms. Quiche Lorraine is not pronounced “Quickie Lou-raine” and Prix Fixe is not an expensive sports car.

14. Closing a deal is not your primary focus. Use the meal to promote a relationship rather than as an attempt to make a sale or close a deal. The focus of a business meal is generally to build or foster a relationship.

15. Follow up with a thank you note. If you were the guest at the meal, drop a handwritten thank you note to your host. It fosters good will and will distinguish you from your competitors.

Enjoy your dinner!

Bill Rohlfing is chair of the SPN Practice Intrerview Committee. Bill has 20-plus years of experience as a manufacturing accounting manager.