Table Manners for Business Meals

Does it Matter How I Eat?

“If your table manners are graceful, people’s perception of you will be very favorable.” – Letitia Baldridge

Many business deals are conducted over a meal. A prospective employer or client invites you to join them for a meal. How important is that meal? How important is my behavior at that meal? Many people would answer that how I eat and what I eat doesn’t really matter. I would argue that is does matter. Maybe not while dining at the golden arches but in a business interview; it can make the difference between that million dollar deal and a desk job.

Celebrating over a meal has evolved over hundreds of years. Habits and traditions have also come a long way. During The Crusades if someone didn’t like what you were doing or saying they wouldn’t hesitate to reach over and stab you. They would use a knife they had just sharpened at the castle entrance. Louis XIV had a lot of influence over table traditions and habits. For example, He had the tip of the knife rounded off. After that the table was set with all knife blades facing in. This was a sign that no harm would come to you during the meal.

As an etiquette consultant I am constantly hearing that it really doesn’t matter that I don’t know which fork to use; I can get by on my charm and knowledge of the product. OK. Table manners are sort of like doing homework. If you become familiar with the process during the week then the Quiz on Friday won’t be so hard. Do your homework.

The thing about table manners is that they never change. Situations may be added but once you learn how to manage the place setting you can then concentrate on selling You or that great product you represent. In case you don’t know a magic phrase to help remind you- here is something to remember: “ Start from the outside- work your way in. Solids on the left liquids on the right”

I can guarantee that in this tough job market a job applicant that can maneuver a place setting with finesse just might make as much difference as having a resume that stands out using Southworth quality Resume paper. Companies have many applicants to choose from. Getting the interview with a quality resume is a beginning. How you eat will set you apart from the others to land the job.

Cricket Wantland is a graduate of The Protocol School of Washington and is a Certified Consultant of Corporate Etiquette, International Protocol and Children’s Etiquette. She lives in Southern California and offers classes and training to all ages. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website at

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