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Forbes Magazine – Dining Etiquette a Test of Character

Dining Etiquette: The Business Meal As A Test Of Character

 

 

“For many families, there is no regular dining time anymore,” says Dennis Cornell, an expert on business protocol based in Los Angeles. “So many young people don’t learn what the rules are.” Cornell says this puts them at a significant disadvantage as they move out into the career world, because a mastery of etiquette is supposed to reveal important parts of one’s character and competence. For that reason, he’s often called on to coach business students, both international and domestic, through the proper protocols of the business meal.

Career Advice for the College Grad–and for Her Mom or Dad

There seems no way around it: The highest level of success requires a sensitivity to those venerable rules, and this spring’s 1.6 million bachelor’s degree recipients around the nation aren’t the only ones who can use a tune-up. We all could, really.

As I noted in another recent article, modern etiquette was born in the Western hemisphere when knights found themselves needing to set aside their more brutish tendencies in order to curry favor from kings in their royal courts.

Today the fineries of etiquette seem laughable to many modern-day knights and knightesses. Some see virtue in flouting such anachronisms. But the same dilemma exists now as it did then: The next time you have an interview or a business deal at a restaurant, your mocking of or even innocent ignorance of the rules may scuttle your chances to win the favor of kings, queens and king-makers.

You don’t need to fret continually about Byzantine niceties, Cornell says. He emphasizes it’s more about cultivating the right attitude than the right technique.  “Etiquette is thinking about the other people you’re with,” he says. It’s about respecting them.”

For that reason, there’s often a highly strategic reason that an employer or prospective business partner will invite you to a meal. They’ll be able to infer much from how you conduct yourself.

“They may be looking to see if you’re a team player,” Cornell tells me. “They may be looking to see how you treat the waiter, because that says something about how you’ll treat someone of lesser rank at the company.”

A Golden Mean

Cornell advises business students, and people of every age, frankly, to attempt to master the process by finding for themselves the “mean” of etiquette rules. This isn’t in order to draw attention to oneself. “The whole point is to draw the least amount of attention to oneself,” he says. “Not too sloppy, not too fussy.” That allows you best personality to come out—uneclipsed by your dining idiosyncrasies.

Cornell, a longtime colleague and a senior administrator at the University of Southern California, has spent decades organizing global conferences, galas and high-impact events. From his experiences he distills a few more general principles:

Dining Don’ts: A Top Ten List of Crimes and Misdemeanors

What are the worst dining etiquette bungles committed by neophytes? Cornell offers a top ten list:

  1. Speaking too loudly or monopolizing the conversation.
  2. Cell phones (“Don’t let them ring,” he says, “and never answer.”)
  3. Leaving purses or keys or sunglasses on the table.
  4. Elbows on the table.
  5. Chewing with one’s mouth open.
  6. Eating too fast or too slowly.
  7. Touching your hair or face at the table.
  8. Reaching across the table. (“Ask!” he says)
  9. Poor posture.
  10. Pushing away the plate or bowl when you’re done.

In the end, it goes back to the classic rule of etiquette: It’s not all about you. And don’t let your performance hint to others that you do think it’s all about you. In the end, this does make how one chooses to hold a fork a matter of character.

 

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“Dynamic Elegance” “Finishing School” for adults

“Finishing School” traditionally instilled a rigid propriety for younger adults.  However, we view this as a BUSINESS STRATEGY for anyone who wishes to do business successfully, especially in the international arena. The International Protocol Institute of California has developed customized programs that are far more comprehensive and business orientated than would be expected from a traditional “Finishing School.”   The programs are tailored for executives and individuals who require professional polish and cultural understanding immediately!   We customize the program to the individual and their particular circumstances.

The International Protocol Institute of California, based in San Diego, CA since 1989  provides solutions to all your  etiquette and protocol challenges!

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Grammar gaffes speak volumes!

Have you noticed that the latest slang is “Hello…ah!”  Or, “how exciting…ah!”  Other current favorite abominations of the english language are” I’m gonna,” or “How you doin?”  A further culprit is, “You did good girl!”  What is this phenomenon where educated young people (and some not so young) tend to sabotage that critical first impression.  Dare I say that they have either become lazy or are unaware of how important the use of proper grammar, avoidance of jargon and proper enunciation are to those whom may influence their future career.  These seemingly innocuous expressions indicate a lack of education and certainly social skills, so why is this becoming so rampant?  The answer is that communication is, for the most part, of the electronic kind these days and offenders simply have no idea of how they come across, or are not concerned about how others view them.   Not smart, but all is not lost…awareness is the first step!

International Protocol Institute of California, based in San Diego, California since 1989, provides solutions to all your etiquette and protocol challenges.

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University of San Diego California – “Manners Matter!”

The students arrived dressed in their “Sunday best.”  Anticipation and let’s face it, abject fear of the Etiquette Guru, was written all over their faces.  This was a courageous lot as the table next to the podium filled up quickly.    I assured them that I don’t eat my young and they were just fine and ready to learn how to do business with the right “fork!”  I shook hands with everyone on arrival and received the good, the bad and the ugly.  On departure, there wasn’t one among them who didn’t give me a firm, confident handshake that was sure to impress future employers.  Next order of business was demonstrating the differences between the American style of dining versus the Continental/European style of dining.  They were all in agreement that in this global economy, Continental was the more elegant and efficient and they all decided to give it a try.  After all, the American style of dining originated in France in the eighteenth century.  The French, then decided to come up with a more efficient way of dining and it became fashionable to only use the Continental style.  America is the premier instigator of efficiency and innovation and perhaps it is time that we applied that same efficiency to our dining style?  Instead of calling it Continental style (remember both styles originated in France to begin with) perhaps we could call it “American Classical” style?  Food for thought no doubt!

The International Protocol Institute of California provides solutions to all your etiquette and protocol challenges.

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First impressions – San Diego Business

Seems like this information has been around for so long, but it is as crucial now as ever.  Theories have ranged from seven seconds to four seconds to create a good first impression…not very long is it?  However, we all make an impression one way or the other.   Sit in a restaurant or in the local Mall and watch other people going by.  What is the first thing that comes to mind?  Are they confident, sad, glad, happy or content?  Not that hard to tell when you really study people.  It’s all in the body language, dress, gait and facial expression.  Try it…it is an education in what to do and what not to do when it comes to business and especially in interviewing situations.  For example:   One CEO told me that she would send her secretary to walk through the Waiting Room and if she saw someone slumped in his/her seat, she would return and inform her that that person wasn’t the right fit for the company.  She (the CEO) would then set about writing the “Non-Acceptance note,” before the candidate even reached her office…not fair, but that is how important first impressions are…they begin in the reception area, being polite to everyone along the way and looking as if you belong from the minute you enter the building to your departure.

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Image is everything! Wining and dining in San Diego, California

Observation is part of my job…not to witness what is wrong, but to highlight what is right.  Little things mean a lot when conveying the image you want to achieve in business.  For instance, if you are invited to join the CEO for dinner with an important client,  knowing how to handle seemingly unimportant actions, go a long way in creating a formidable impression.  For instance, holding your wine glass by the stem for white wine or champagne makes sense because it keeps it cold, although it is perfectly acceptable to hold the red wine glass by the bowl for the opposite reason.   However, anytime I see a person hold a wine glass by the stem (whether it is white or red wine) sends an immediate message of sophistication and elegance.

Based in San Diego since 1989, the International Protocol Institute of California has designed hundreds of business etiquette programs for top U.S. corporations, organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals.  Let us customize the program that meets your specific requirements to support  and advance your business development goals.

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Telephone Etiquette – Lack of interest or lack of knowledge?

After waiting in line for thirty minutes until the customer representative was ready to take my information, the phone rang and you guessed it…the young man immediately picked up and started a conversation with a colleague (not a customer).  Customer service?   The best way to handle it would have been to answer the phone and politely ask the caller to “hold” and then get back to them as soon as possible.  First impressions begin at the primary point of contact and the customer always takes precedence over the person calling in.

Based in San Diego since 1989, the International Protocol Institute of California has designed hundreds of business etiquette programs for top U.S. corporations, organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals.  Let us customize the program that meets your specific requirements to support  and advance your business development goals.

 

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The well written Thank-You note in business

It may seem old fashioned but the well-written Thank-You note will never go out of style.  In one instance, where I interviewed an extremely polished college graduate, I was utterly impressed when, on completion of his interview, he went to his car and retrieved a beautifully written Thank You Card and left it at the front desk!  Even if that seems a little extreme, the value to you of writing a “timely” Thank-You note will certainly make a strong impression and may also be the deciding factor in hiring you.  It is further more likely that your card will get noticed when it is addressed in handwriting as opposed to a typed envelope.  By “timely,” I mean within forty eight hours!

Based in San Diego, California,  our Business Etiquette and international business etiquette and  protocol programs provide real-time solutions to all your etiquette and protocol challenges.

 

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The Etiquette of Introductions

“Our Speaker needs no introduction!”  This introduction does not set the stage for the Speaker and makes you look less than confident!  Thanks to Toastmasters International, I learned how to introduce a Speaker properly using the following formula: TIS –

T – Topic – Give a brief overview of the topic

I –   Importance – Talk about how important the topic is

S – Speaker – Finally, introduce the Speaker…”Please welcome…”

If you (like millions of others) are likely to run the other way when asked to present a speaker or make a presentation, I would highly recommend Toastmasters International.  There are chapters all over the U.S. and the world, where you will learn the art of being a speaker in a positive environment.

Based in San Diego since 1989, the International Protocol Institute has designed hundreds of programs for top U.S. corporations, organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals.  Let us customize the program that meets your specific requirements to support  and advance your business development goals.

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The foibles of the Club Sandwich!

When dining with a client, should you order a Club Sandwich?  The answer is “No!”  To eat a Club Sandwich, one has to dig in as if in the “JAWS” movie, which, of course, will prevent you from conversing, while the remnants slowly drain down your chin!

Read on:http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/03/06/army-general-issues-sandwich-ban-says-troops-eating-with-hands-barbaric/

British army general issues sandwich ban says troops eating with hands ‘barbaric’

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    Major General James Cowan, seen here in Iraq, sent out a three-page rant criticizing the table manners of troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, England, which was published in the Sun on Wednesday. (AP)

A British army general has banned soldiers from eating sandwiches after observing the “barbaric” practice of soldiers eating with their hands.

Major General James Cowan sent out a three-page rant criticizing the table manners of troops at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, England, which was published in the Sun on Wednesday.

The letter penned by Cowan, who is in charge of 20,000 soldiers and 2,500 officers and has led British forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, was addressed to “Chaps” and went out to his junior commanders.  It described Cowan’s overall dismay with the lack of etiquette at the military base.

“Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands,” he wrote. “The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches in the mess is to stop. A gentleman or lady always uses a knife and fork.”

The somewhat tongue-in-cheek note went on to address much more than table manners. Cowan went on to describe how one should act at a dinner party.

“A good party relies on good conversation. This requires you to come prepared to be free, funny and entertaining. Thank you letters are an art form not a chore. It is generally considered better manners if the spouse is the person who writes.”

He detailed how to use cutlery.

“The fork always goes in the left hand and the knife in the right. Holding either like a pen is unacceptable, as are stabbing techniques. The knife and fork should remain in the bottom third of the plate and never be laid down in the top half.”

And tips for a successful marriage…

“The secret of a successful marriage is never to sit next to your spouse at dinner, except when dining alone at home. It displays a marked degree of insecurity.”

He even branched into the need for correct grammar usage.

“In common with officialdom the world over, military writers love to use pompous words over simpler language. Combined with underlining and italics, the wanton use of capitals, abbreviations and acronyms assaults the eye and leaves the reader exhausted.”

According to the Sun, a spokesman for the Army stated that the long-winded diatribe was a joke, adding: “This note was part of a light-hearted correspondence between a commander and his officers about an expected code of behavior.”

 

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