A Guide to Dining Success:

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The employment office equips students at the Westshore campus with skills to master business and professional etiquette.

By Jane Salihu

On Thursday, November 9, the Tri-C Employment Office and Student Engagement Services collaborated to organize a Business and Professional Etiquette event, featuring Kristin L. Williams, M.Ed. One key highlight of the session was the discussion on Dining Etiquette, shedding light on the importance of refined social and dining behavior in professional settings. 

Dining etiquette encompasses rules governing social and dining behavior in workplaces, groups, or societies. Kristin emphasized that table manners serve as visible signs of professionalism and knowledge. The session covered various aspects, including courses, networking, greetings and handshakes, and the interview meal.

Kristin encouraged attendees to introduce themselves to those seated to their right and left, emphasizing proper greetings and handshakes along with a brief overview of oneself. The art of balancing drinks and appetizers, especially with hard-to-eat foods, was discussed to ensure a polished impression. 

A piece of cake with berry sauce on a white plate

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The interview lunch offers an opportunity to showcase social skills. Participants were advised to conduct basic research on the chosen restaurant, review the menu beforehand, and understand ordering dos and don’ts, small talk, and avoiding negative comments about the meal. Proper seating etiquette, waiting for the host to invite guests to their seats, and traditional place settings were outlined. The correct use of napkins, including placement and folding techniques, was emphasized. Participants learned that napkins are for blotting the mouth, not as tissue substitutes or trash receptacles. 

From soup to dessert, the session covered various aspects of eating etiquette, including the proper way to spoon soup, salt and pepper etiquette, and the importance of chewing with one’s mouth closed.

Ordering the entrée, understanding service cues, and handling dietary restrictions were discussed. Differentiating between American Zig Zag and Continental silverware styles, selecting utensils from the outside moving inward, and signaling when resting or finished eating were highlighted. Participants were reminded never to place used utensils on the table or tablecloth. The importance of politeness, using “please” and “thank you,” and being courteous to wait staff were emphasized. The session concluded with the reminder that the focus of the meal is the interview, not the food. Participants were encouraged to send a thank-you note and follow up on the interview. 

Mastering dining etiquette is an essential skill for professionals, particularly during interviews. This event provided valuable insights into proper behavior, ensuring that participants could focus on the interview rather than worrying about their table manners. As the saying goes, “manners maketh the professional.” 

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