Three tips to make business luncheons more comfortable

Carey Sue Vega, Expeditions In Etiquette

A key to a great experience at a business luncheon is for everyone to feel comfortable. But we’ve all been at a luncheon where the opposite was true, either for us or someone else.

Here are three tips for you to feel more comfortable, enabling the others around you to feel comfortable as well.

Setting your own silverware

Sometimes you go to business luncheons at more casual restaurants, and the silverware is rolled in the napkin. You unroll the napkin and suddenly there’s a pile of silverware in front of you.

What do you do?

How many letters are in the word left? Four. How many letters are in the word fork? Four. So the fork goes on your left.

How many letters are in the word right? Five. How many letters are in the words knife and spoon? Five. The knife and spoon go on your right, with the knife closest to your plate and the spoon to the right of your knife.

Drink and bread

Have you ever been to a luncheon where there were too many people squeezed into a round table? It’s easy for people to get mixed up and use the wrong drink or eat from the wrong bread plate. You may have even heard someone ask, “Is there a water somewhere that hasn’t been claimed?”

Take both of your hands and make okay signs. Your left hand makes a lowercase ‘b’ and your right hand makes a lowercase ‘d’. Those letters help to remind you your bread plate is on your left and your drink is on your right.  Or you can remember BMW, standing for Bread, Meal, Water.  Either way, you’re sure to get the correct items every time!

The hot seat

Back in the day, the host would sit at the seat closest to the fireplace because it was the most uncomfortable. It was called the hot seat, and that’s what we now call any seat or position that’s uncomfortable for some reason.

When attending luncheon events, entertaining clients over a meal, or even at a coffee meeting, take the ‘hot seat’ for yourself and give your guest the best seat at the table.

The more comfortable you are with the rules of etiquette, the less likely you will be to stress over those rules, which in turn will make it much easier for you to make others feel more comfortable.  Then you’ll be more likely to have a great experience at any business luncheon and be able to tend to the business at hand without fretting over the ‘what do I do’s’ that have a notion of popping up at the most inopportune time.

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