A Place for Business Dining Etiquette in Post-Secondary Education

Many post-secondary degree programs in commerce, management, and business incorporate dining etiquette training and other related seminars into their course requirements. Ranging anywhere from one afternoon session to a full course lasting several weeks, any introduction to business etiquette skills can set up young professionals for success.

The only problem is, many etiquette programs seemed to be confined only to management or commerce programs. Other departments and faculties often do not acknowledge their students’ need for business etiquette training. Yet business etiquette provides countless strategies and techniques for professionals in any field – especially while dining for business, when much of the protocol is not intuitive, but instead consists of learned conventions.

In addition, nearly any professional could find him or herself taking part in a business meal. Whether it includes an interview over a meal, dinner with an honoured guest, a business deal or client relationship forged over lunch, or networking during a cocktail party – any of these situations requires a set of business dining skills.

Here are several common mistakes that occur during business meals – and solutions that business dining etiquette can provide.

  • Uncertainty around place setting; use of wrong bread plate and water glass.
    When we are in unfamiliar or uncertain situations, we can feel out of control and lose our confidence. This can certainly happen during a business meal, when diners unfamiliar with the setting can get so caught up in the details that they forget to focus on the business at hand. Simple knowledge of using the bread plate to the left and the water glass to the right can allow a diner to shift his or her attention to the important issues and not worry too much about the small details of the meal.
  • Conversations that are too controversial or too personal.
    There are certain topics of conversation that should never be broached during a business meal, such as deeply personal questions or controversial issues. Business meals are about forging relationships, not inciting debate. Yet it is equally important to have a pulse on the conversation and know when – or when not – to talk business, as some prefer to discuss deals only after a meal. Dining etiquette can teach professionals to be sensitive and aware of the course of conversation during a meal.
  • Drinking alcohol during a business meal.
    Ordering alcohol can be a major faux pas during a business meal. Diners, especially junior staff, should not order alcohol unless the host does and invites others to do so as well. If alcohol is part of the meal, it is best to stick to one glass for the evening. Especially for those new to business dining, etiquette training can clarify any awkwardness or uncertainty about ordering alcohol during a business meal.
  • Networking cocktail parties are about building relationships, not about food and drink.
    At networking events, cocktails and small plates are often an added benefit to an evening function. Yet the focus of the event is not the food, but rather to build connections with others and make great first impressions. Business dining etiquette training can help to make this important distinction, as well as provide solutions for focusing on the networking element of the event – such as having a snack before attending or planning a dinner in advance of the event.

We have conducted business etiquette seminars at over a dozen colleges and universities across Canada and we are committed to the success of emerging young professionals.

Have Good Manners and “Respect” Disappeared in 2012?

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There’s no doubt that our society today is very different from what it was a few decades ago. But has “respect” disappeared from our society? Watch a recent CBS news report to find out what people are saying about good manners:

Respect and good manners never go out of style. No matter where in the world you might live; we all want to be treated with respect. If you think about it, etiquette is nothing but respect – Respect for others in the way you treat them in business or at the job, while travelling or at the dinner table; and it’s also respect for yourself – how you look and feel, how you dress and how you present yourself in front of the world.

Corporate Class Inc.’s etiquette classes in Toronto teach you that the first step to receiving respect is to give respect.

Find out more about our various etiquette classes in Toronto including:

To get more information about etiquette classes in Toronto and how they can deliver measurable benefit to your organization, contact Diane Craig.

 

Dining Etiquette in China – 10 Must-Know Tips for Business Travelers

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dining etiquette in chinaAs the world grows smaller, you may find yourself travelling from one major city to another for business. If you’re a leading executive you know that major business deals are signed not only in the boardroom, but at the golf course and the dining table. With that being said, international business etiquette, including dining etiquette plays a major role when it comes to conducting business successfully in foreign nations.

Did you know that there are thousands of people who travel to China every year for business? No matter where you travel, being sensitive of other cultures and learning the codes of how locals conduct themselves can earn you valuable points. The Chinese take their food seriously. Contrary to Western dining, dining etiquette in China involves sharing food from common bowls.

If you’re travelling to China to sign a major corporate business deal, pay heed to these top 10 dining etiquette rules by Sally Huang, who hails from Guangzhou, China, before you head out to your next Chinese business dinner:

1. Attend the formal business dinner punctual in formal suits. It is better to bring some small gifts or good win per status of the relationship with the host.

2. Take appropriate seat as they are usually arranged according to seniority. If you are not sure about it, ask the host or wait and see how others take seats.

3. Don’t be surprised if your host orders more food than you can have as it is usually the way Chinese show their hospitality. Moreover, it is a way to show their “Mian zi”, namely face in English as Chinese attach great importance to mianzi.

To reiterate it further, Mianzi, or “face” in English, can loosely be translated to “status” or “self-respect”. A huge part of Chinese social etiquette, having “face” means you are viewed as someone who is respected by your peers, superiors and subordinates. Mianzi can also be understood as the avoidance of embarrassment in front of others.

4. Don’t point your chopsticks directly at others or straight upright in your rice bowl as it resembles the incense burnt at funerals.

5. Don’t slurp your soup loudly at the dinner table as it is considered as impolite.

6. Take food first from the plates in front of you rather than those in the middle or in front of others. Avoid using your chopsticks burrowing through the food and gazing your eyes to the plates as it is thought as bad table manners.

7. Use a spoon that no one has used before to take food from communal plates for yourself or others even though it is common in China that in family gathering or company gathering, people use their own chopsticks to get food.

8. When adding rice to your bowl, it is polite to take initiative to fill the bowls of the elders and others.

9. Drinking bear is a core process. If you are toasting with others, usually it is expressed with the words “Gan bei”, which is denoted as “Cheers” in English, mainly bottoms up or empty your glass. It is not necessary to empty your glass, but to leave a good impression, it would be good to do it or bring someone who can drink on your part.

10. It is usually the host who pays for the bill excluding informal gatherings among friends and other similar occasions. However, in Chinese custom, it is polite to make an effort to pay, that’s the reason why it is common to see some Chinese fighting fierce for the right to pay.

Learning about dining etiquette in China or any other country can give you a major advantage in procuring the deal, especially if you’re competing with other firms.

Talk to Diane Craig before you head out to foreign lands to procure your next business deal. Her international etiquette tips might just be the difference between returning with your head held high – or down.