Table Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

Table Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

In part one, we covered the function of tableware and place setting. Read it here. In this post, we will cover the do’s and don’ts of business etiquette. I hope this post will take the hand-wringing out of that sometimes nerve-racking business dinner. Let’s be frank, people will judge you by your table manners. In business settings, it could be a derailer or simply get in the way of you being comfortable during the dinner or event. If nothing else, I hope these tips will boost your confidence and will help you concentrate on socializing and actively participating in the dinner conversation.


  • Briefcases/purses go under the table above left toe.
  • Gentlemen, do ask the the female guest if you can get the chair for her.
  • Order the medium priced dishes on the menu, not the most expensive.
  • Wait until everyone has been served before starting to eat.
  • Hold your fork in your left hand, hold your knife in your right hand.
  • Use fork to lift food to your mouth.
  • When you pause to take a sip of your beverage or to speak, rest utensils by placing knife and fork in upside down V.
  • Pass everything to the right.
  • When calling the waiter, put two fingers together and at shoulder height with eye contact to get the waiter’s attention. Do not shout across the room or motion frantically.
  • It is perfectly okay to put elbows on the table between courses.
  • Do discreetly tell a colleague if there is spinach stuck between their teeth – you will make a friend for life. Everyone appreciates being saved from embarrassing situations.
  • When leaving the table, leave napkin on your chair.
  • Always excuse yourself to apply makeup or fix hair. Never apply makeup at the table.
  • Thank the host or senior person at the table before you leave


  • Don’t be late. You don’t want to be the last one rushing to the dinner table.
  • Do not put your phone on the dining table. Do not look at your phone unless it is an emergency. Engage with the people around you.
  • Don’t be rude to the wait staff. Your colleagues are watching.
  • Do not blow nose at the dinner table.
  • Don’t make a fuss if there’s hair or unclean cutlery, discreetly ask for replacement when the server comes by.
  • Don’t take a doggy bag when you are on a business dinner.
  • Don’t sop up sauce with your bread.
  • Do not finish eating before the senior person at the table – eat slowly. Take a maximum of four bites then break. The meal is a social event so be sure to make time to engage with others around the table.
  • Don’t ask, “what do you do” as your first few questions. Get to know the person, talk about the event, the weather,  anything but leading with “what do you do.”
  • Don’t dominate the table discussion, allow others to get a word in.

These are just a few do’s and don’ts for your next business event. Have I missed any business etiquette that you think is important? Do share!

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