If your worst nightmare is going to lunch with a recruiter and eliminating yourself from the running when you fold your napkin the wrong way, we get it.
And while that particular scenario is unlikely, if you’re so nervous about looking unsophisticated, that may end up hurting your chances.
Below, we’ve rounded up a bunch of key rules to keep in mind when you’re doing business over a meal, so you can show up with confidence.
Here’s what every professional needs to know about dining etiquette.
It's OK to hold open a door for your guest, but Pachter says you shouldn't pull someone's chair out for them, regardless of gender. In a business setting, you should leave those gendered social rules behind.
'Both men and women can pull out their own chairs,' she writes.
Each course should have its own utensils, and all of them may already be in front of you or will be placed in front of you as the dishes are served.
In the case that all of the utensils are there at the beginning of the meal, a good general rule is to start with utensils on the outside and work your way in as the meal goes on.
Here's Pachter's guide to using the proper utensils:
'The largest fork is generally the entrée fork. The salad fork is smaller. The largest spoon is usually the soup spoon.
'If you are having a fish course, you may see the fish knife and fork as part of the place setting.
'The utensils above the plate are the dessert fork and spoon, although these may sometimes be placed on either side of the plate or brought in with the dessert.'
'Do not complain or criticise the service or food,' Pachter writes. 'Your complaints will appear negative, and it is an insult to your host to criticise.'
Pachter says you should never use your knife to cut your rolls at a business dinner. 'Break your roll in half and tear off one piece at a time, and butter the piece as you are ready to eat it.'
Randall says this is a big faux pas.
Instead, she recommends: 'Using your left index finger and thumb, quickly remove the morsel and place it under a lettuce leaf. Wipe your fingers on your napkin.'
Of course, Randall caveats, you shouldn't do this if you're in the middle of a conversation. In that case, excuse yourself to fix the situation in the restroom.
'Place your knife and fork in the rest position (knife near the top of plate, fork across middle of plate) to let the waiter know you are resting,' Pachter writes.
'Use the finished position (fork below the knife, diagonally across the plate) to indicate that you have finished eating.'
This one seems like an obvious no-no, but it still happens.
'Don't whip out the dental floss or use your toothpick or pinky nail to remove the stuck piece of broccoli while you're at the table,' Randall writes.
And 'don't swoosh your finger around your mouth to get the leftover chunks. (That's super gross!)'
'You are there for business, not for the leftovers,' Pachter writes. 'Doggie bags are ok for family dinners but not during professional occasions.'
'If you did the inviting, you are the host, and you should pay the bill, regardless of gender,' Pachter writes.
'What if a male guest wants to pay? A woman does have some choices. She can say, 'Oh, it's not me; it is the firm that is paying.' Or she can excuse herself from the table and pay the bill away from the guests. This option works for men as well, and it is a very refined way to pay a bill.'
'However, the bottom line is that you don't want to fight over a bill. If a male guest insists on paying despite a female host's best efforts, let him pay,' she says.
This is an update of an article originally posted by Vivian Giang.
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