You’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, and it has finally arrived. Good for you! You’re going to a power lunch to meet that important person/people who can impact your success. You’ve done your homework and are mentally prepared. You’re confident in your technical skills but a tad nervous about meeting over lunch.
Don’t worry; take a deep breath and relax. Review these 10 dining what-to-do/what-not-to-do etiquette scenarios to gain that extra pinch of confidence and polish.
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1. What to do with my purse/briefcase?
Keep them off the table. And this rule goes for keys, hats, gloves and eyeglasses In short, if it isn’t part of the meal, it shouldn’t be on the table.
2. Elbows off the table!
Remember what your mother said: Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table. If you have any doubt about where your hands belong, put them in your lap.
3. The person to my left is eating the roll from my bread plate.
We’ve all experienced similar dining situations. You have one of two choices: Don’t say anything and try to convince yourself you didn’t need that roll anyway or don’t say anything and ask the waiter for another roll and put it on the side your lunch plate.
4. Hurry and bring my food, I’m starving!
Relax and take it easy. Gulping down your food is not only unhealthy and unattractive, it can cross the line into rudeness when dining with others. As a rule of thumb, dining partners should order the same number of courses and start and finish each approximately the same time.
5. Chew like a bunny.
Never chew with your mouth open. No matter how much you want to inject the perfect kernel of wit or wisdom into the conversation, don’t do it with food in your mouth. Finish chewing, swallow, smile and nod, content knowing you could have said just the right thing, but know not to speak with food in your mouth.
6. It’s a fork and knife, nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t grip your fork or hold your knife like a dagger. And for lord’s sake, don’t wave your fork and knife triumphantly in the air to emphasize a point. Sure, you’re excited to close the big deal, but use hand gestures to make a point and leave the silverware to your food.
7. Please pass the salt – and pepper.
Before you even ask for the salt or pepper, taste your food first. You may find the chef prepared it to your liking and it doesn’t need extra seasoning. If you can’t resist a little more salt, don’t reach for it, ask for it to be passed. And if you’re the person passing the salt, pass BOTH – the salt and pepper – together. They should always be passed as one.
8. Oh no, I dropped my fork!
No worries, it happens to the best of us. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Leave it on the floor and ask the server to bring you another one.
9. One of the lunch guests at the table has spinach in her teeth. Should I tell her?
As difficult as it may be, it’s best not to say anything or draw attention to it. Continue conversing, smiling and making eye contact.
10. Oh, crap my cell phone is ringing!
Ouch, this is a no-no. At the risk of showing disrespect turn off your phone before your power lunch. If you forget, and your phone starts to ring, immediately turn it off or to silent and apologize. Your lunch guest takes priority.