Corporate dinners, annual dinner and dances and networking dinners are great opportunities to spend time with co-workers and corporate bigwigs at work. They’re also a fun way to relax and build relationships with the important figures on your career path.
However, the thought of attending such events can make some people nervous about the suitability of their outfits and idiosyncrasies of their fine dining etiquette. With so many unfamiliar faces around the table that you have to talk to, how can you manage your stress levels and make a positive and lasting impression on everyone?
By following these simple dos and don’ts, you’d be able to do just that.
Prepare beforehandGive yourself plenty of time before the dinner to get ready. Make sure what the dress code is well in advance and look your best within the dress code – remember that it’s always better to over dress than under dress.
Arrive early and greet everyoneIt feels good to arrive slightly early for dinner appointments – you suffer little to no stress which translates into a good start for the evening. The resulting relaxed demeanor puts you in a better mood to greet your hosts and other guests to leave great first impressions on them. If you wish to better remember the names of the guests you haven’t met before, repeat his or her name after being introduced.
Wait to be seatedSometimes, special seating arrangements are made by the hosts. To be respectful, ask him or her where they would like you to sit.
Give 100% attention to the person talking to youIn a conversation, be sure to maintain full eye contact with the person talking to you to demonstrate your respect for the person and to indicate interest in the topic. Ensure that your line of sight doesn’t waver even when a waiter arrives at your table to take orders or take away glasses. Turning your attention to the waiter can sometimes connote that you hold the waiter in higher regard than the guest.
Start eating only when everyone is servedAs a mark of respect for the group of people at your table, wait until everyone has received his or her food before you start eating.
Thank the host/hostess before leavingAlways personally thank the host/hostess for their hospitality after the event and to further illustrate your good dinner etiquette – send a personal thank you note to the host shortly afterwards.
Eat before you get a signalThe host may offer a speech or two before dinner starts, so be sure to only start eating when he or she gives the go-ahead.
Over-talk about yourselfResist the temptation to talk about yourself at dinner events unless specifically asked to do so. Instead, show an interest in others by asking them questions and talking about their interests. Always be mindful of how much you’re contributing or listening to your conversations.
Drink too muchCorporate dinners rank as one of the top few moments to rein in the alcohol consumption. If you want more to drink, just wait until the dinner party is over to do so.
Offer your criticismEven if you think you can do better, don’t criticize the host’s choice of food and drink. Instead, be appreciative that they’ve invited you.
Stretch across the tableCrossing other guests while you stretch to reach the salt and pepper can sometimes lead to unnecessary accidents (eg. tie drops into someone else’s wine glass). It is perfectly acceptable to ask guests sitting near to you to pass the item you want to you.
Ever witnessed a dinner disaster at a corporate dinner party, or have you organized one for your organisation and successfully ensured that everything went smoothly? Tell us your stories in the comments section below!
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