On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the UVU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, most commonly known as PRSSA, held their Second Annual Etiquette Dinner at Centre Stage of the Sorensen Student Center.
Students not only enjoyed a six-course meal but also learned helpful etiquette tips from guest speaker Anna King. Representatives from sponsors of the UVU PRSSA also attended, including Tai Pan Trading, Worthington-Leavitt Insurance Agency and SnappConner PR.
King’s presentation, titled “Good Manners Make Good Sense,” went into detail about acceptable etiquette at a meal in a professional setting. Proper etiquette can help one be appropriate when eating with a potential employer, as well as help build friendships outside of the work place with co-workers.
Here are some of her tips anyone can use in a formal meal setting:
Place your napkin in your lap when sitting down in the seat.
Use utensils working from the farthest outside and work your way in throughout the meal.
Outside of the United States, right-handed people hold their fork in their left hand and knife in their right hand, known as “continental style”. In America, we switch our forks to our right hands. Either way you choose, stay consistent throughout the meal.
People are generally given multiple glasses and can get mixed up on the table. If someone accidentally takes one of your glasses, do your best to find one near you to use. If it’s too confusing, ask your server for another one.
If there is alcohol being served and you don’t drink, graciously tell the server you don’t want any and have them take your cup, or cover your glass with your hand when it is being served to the other guests.
Don’t begin eating until everyone at the table has been served. Sometimes the ones without food will insist that you go ahead and at that point you can start.
Eat at the general pace of everyone around you or to the slowest one at the table. It’s awkward when you are sitting there waiting for everyone to be done. There’s no need to rush.
Break your bread into bite-size pieces and butter them individually.
Say “please” and “thank you” when passing items around the table.
If you need to excuse yourself at some point during the meal, place your napkin on your seat. It lets the server know that you will be coming back.
It’s easy to get distracted these days. Stay focused on the people you are with. They are taking time to be there with you. So be there mentally with them.
Come prepared with some “harmless questions” to start up conversation.
When you are finished with a course, place your utensils at the five o’clock position on your plate. This tells the server you are ready for them to take your plate.
Send your host a thank you note within one to two days after the meal to show appreciation. If you can’t get around to sending a physical note, an email is better than nothing at all.
Learning proper etiquette can be intimidating and may seem like a lot to grasp, but if you get the hang of it, you will feel more comfortable and professional. These are some tips to get started, and if you are interested in learning more, there are several books about etiquette or several sources online. Bon appétit!
By Janessa McNeil