by Tobias, Etiquette Expert
Photo credit: Dave Sanders for The NYT/Asiate Restaurant, NYC
Business meals in New York may either advance or endanger the future of your career. Your bosses and clients expect your best dining etiquette skills at a business dining function. Giving any less will not be forgiven.
Upon arrival at a restaurant, sit down at the table, unfold your napkin on your lap, and then check what other diners are doing. Wait to begin eating until everyone is served. Follow your cues from the host or hostess. Work from the outside-in when choosing silverware. Cut only one piece of food at a time and swallow your food before taking a sip of your beverage. After every two to three bites, use your napkin to blot your mouth. Your water or wine glass should be placed on your right-hand side, and each time you drink from it, return it to the same spot to avoid confusion with that of your dining partner. Your dining utensils should not be held in dagger position. Neither slurp nor burp while eating. When leaving the dining table, place your napkin on the back of your seat or chair. At the end of your meal, signal that you are leaving the table by placing the napkin on the left of your plate.
Pairing meals and wines appropriately is essential in business dining. While white wine is generally the safest choice to pair with a variety of foods, red wine goes well only with steak dishes or hearty game. Learn some wine vocabulary to keep you engaged in a conversation if wine talk emerges during your business lunch. Some fancy terms to master may include: full-bodied wine, to describe a bold flavor; dry and delicate, for temperate and muted wine; acidic, balanced, or alkaline, for a bite of the wine sip; finish, for the aftertaste of wine. Also, master the three Ws of wine selection: where for wine’s region, when for the vintage of the wine, and what for wine type, for example, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Business dining conversation can be similar to a casual dinner —but don’t forget your business manners! When preparing for a business dinner, research your guests’ work and interests ahead of time. You should also know how to ask leading questions to lead an engaging discussion. Remember the names of all guests and business associates, and pay attention to their needs, especially when they are looking for service or help passing a bread basquet, salt and pepper shakers, or side dishes. At the end of the meal, thank your fellow guests for the privilege of dining with them.
Your business networking opportunities can be squandered if you blow your nose right at the dining table, or if you take a minute to send a text message. Stay focused, stay engaged and enjoy your meal!