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You don't know what you don't know", Part II – The Answers

September 27, 2010

On our last post we challenged you with an etiquette quiz and this week we have a winner and the answers.  Manners are important.  Being formally trained and participating in workshops that add to your personal and professional development help with your brand and with that of your company or college. The protocol and etiquette of dining especially if you are dining with your clients, your manager or an interviewer can be crucial.

Participating in one of our interactive workshops can only add to your dining savvy.  Think about it as the eating season approaches- galas, customer appreciation events, conferences, interviews, client entertaining, holiday parties, etc.

Congratulations to Fabiola V Rivara for winning the raffle.  We hope you enjoy the imported, hand stitched dinner napkins and the Dining Etiquette Book.  We got a lot of responses and thanks to all that participated.  We will add your name into the next raffle to give you a second chance on a great Protocol Gift.  Now for the answers to the….

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    When at a business meal when should I start eating?
A: Wait for your host to signal the meal’s beginning. The host may wish to make a formal statement, prayer or a toast before attention turns to the food. Normally, the host will verbally ask the guests to begin or start by passing a dish himself or he may begin by serving up a dish or even spreading a napkin on his lap..

2.   I am not a religious person. What should I do if a meal begins with a prayer?
A: It is well to remember that you are in the company of other people and their customs.  If your hostess asks you to join hands or bow your head is not asking too much for you to accommodate her in this regard. Conversely, if you feel strongly about your religious tradition and are in the home of a person who pointedly does not pray before meal time, do not be ostentatious in your ritual. Be meek and humble, say your prayer silently and reverently to yourself and proceed with the meal..

3.   Who is served first?
A: If you are the host, insist that your guests are served first and that they begin as soon as they are served as you want them to enjoy the meal at the appropriate temperature..

4.   What is the correct percentage for a tip?
A. Providing the service was good, a tip of 15% of the bill before tax is a good rule of thumb. If you happen to live where the state tax is between 7% and 8% you can calculate the tip easily by looking at the amount you are taxed and simply doubling it. You can then round this amount off higher or lower, depending on the service and your state’s tax percentage.

5.   My client had finished eating but I was still eating, shouldn’t the waitress remove his plate?
A: This is actually a question of pace on your part.  If the client is finished eating a course you should also be finished the course so that you can both move on to the next course together whether its dessert or business..

6.    What should I do with my napkin if I need to leave the table?
A: If you have not completed your meal it should go in your chair, remember to push your chair in.  If you are finished neatly to the left of your place setting

Never be fooled by the apparent congeniality of a business meal. Whether a prospective employer is taking you to lunch or you’re trying to win the big contract, your table manners have never been under greater scrutiny.

Table manners were designed to keep us from offending one another with unappetizing behavior. The rules of table etiquette can be very involved. Let us help keep you out of trouble and, hopefully, land that job or contract or business relationship.

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit to learn more.

Related posts:

Business Meal Blunders

Four Dining Do’s and Dont’s

More on Gestures..Where Did That Come From?

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