Dining Etiquette Seminar - Seating
Who Sits Where
Whether you are the
host or a guest at a business meal, selecting the right restaurant and knowing
the seating protocol are crucial for a successful business meeting. The
seating arrangements are a powerful way to facilitate verbal and nonverbal
communications during the meal and to make your guests comfortable. A mistake
in the seating strategy can send unspoken messages to your guests that may
damage the business relationship.
If you are the one extending the
invitation, as a host you are responsible for making sure that everything from
selecting the restaurant to the end goes smoothly. Generally, lunch and
breakfast are the more common meals around which business gatherings take
place, lunch being the preferred meal.
you are inviting clients, colleagues, or candidates for a job to dine with you
over a business meal, making sure that all details are taken care of ahead of
time will allow you to concentrate on your meeting and the relationship
building without unnecessary distractions.
Selecting a Restaurant
Selecting the appropriate
restaurant for the business meal is a critical part of the planning. You may
want to offer your guest a choice of establishments, as he or she may have a
personal or dietary preference. Choose a location that is convenient for most
guests. When the guests know that you are taking their needs into
consideration, your relationship will be stronger from the start.
Always make a reservation in
advance. At the time that you make the reservation, you may ask if it is
possible to request a particular table or area of the restaurant�one that is
private and/or conducive to business conversation.
A day or two prior to the
meeting, confirm with your guests and re-confirm with the restaurant. If your
guests are unfamiliar with the city or the restaurant where you will have the
meeting, send a link to the restaurant�s website in an email. This allows them
to virtually visit the place ahead of time, become familiar with the menu, and
get directions if necessary.
Arriving and Seating
As a host, you should arrive early so that you will be the first person
present. This will give you time to check the table and the menu before the
guests arrive. Introduce yourself to the waiter who will be serving you, and
check the table to ensure it is adequate and to decide where you would like
your guests to sit.
Greet your guests upon their arrival. As you greet them, make the appropriate
introductions to ensure that everyone is acknowledged and feels comfortable.
Planning the seating arrangements ahead of time is part of the business meal
planning. As the guests arrive, signal them where to sit. Seating at the table
should be arranged by rank, authority, or importance.
Extend the best seat to your client or to the most important guest. They
should always have the better view of the room. Seat yourself with your back
facing the door or the main part of the room.
guest, you want to be on time. If you are going to be late, call the host
ahead to give as much notice as you can. If you are waiting for a late dining
partner and have not heard from him or her, wait at least 15 minutes before
inquiring. Be gracious once he or she arrives, change the subject of
tardiness, and move on as soon as possible.
Wait for your host to signal where to sit. If he or she does not offer, it is
appropriate to ask where you should sit. Sit with your chair several inches
from the table�s edge. Sit erect and avoid sliding down in the chair. If you
are with several people at the dinner table, be sensitive of the space and do
not crowd your neighbors.