Some Surprising Rules of Dinner Etiquette

Last night was the kickoff to our Summer Business Institute program at Villanova. The main event was a dinner with all of the students, the faculty, and our professional staff. The keynote speaker was once again Lauren Katen.

Lauren has her own consulting firm which focuses on providing “business soft skills training”, and she was our guest speaker at last year’s dinner as well. I wrote abou that event last year, and I noted it was one fo the top three presentations I had seen in my 30 years at Villanova, and last night’s presentation was jsut as good. I won’t go over all the dining etiquette lessons that we learned; many of those lessons are noted in my blog post from last year about this event.

However, there were a couple of tips that I picked up that I was not aware of.

The first tip had to do with how to behave when you are toasted at an event. I found a web site that offered the same exact advice as Lauren on this issue:

If the host proposes a toast in your honor, don’t raise your glass or take a drink until everyone has taken a drink and put their glasses back down on the table. Taking a sip during your own toast would be similar to patting yourself on the back.

Not knowing this, I would have taken a sip immediately. Perhaps there’s a link between my not knowing that, and why it’s never been an issue…

The second issue dealt with what to drink when you are out to a business lunch. Lauren offered some basic, but helpful advice about drinking alcohol on such an occasion, but what really struck me was her suggestion to not just drink water at dinner.

Lauren noted that just drinking water may leave an impression that you are kind of bland, not very enthusiastic.

I was disappointed to hear such advice, since it seems to me that drinking just water sends a very positive image.

Maybe it’s because water tends to be what I order when I go out to dinner, and drinking just water could indicate that you are into a healthy lifestyle, and who wouldn’t want to have that be their first impression.

And speaking of first impressions, here’s one final one.

People form an impression about someone in the first seven seconds of having met them.

Seven seconds doesn’t sound like much, but at least it’s longer than the average time people spend reading my blog posts…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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