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Are you wielding the right fork Mr. Executive?


n a globalised competitive environment, executives are not only expected to be be cognisant with Java, C, C++, Unix and Oracle but must also be well-versed in social graces and skills. Executives, today, are no longer confined to their work laboraties or the office floor but, as part share holders of the company, are expected to execute managerial responsibilities. From time to time, these may constitute cementing a relationship with clients over a power lunch adding final touches to the new business strategy or ironing out intra-office differences over the buffet table. An excessive preoccupation with which piece of cutlery to use, stemming from inadequate knowledge about dining etiquette, may reveal cracks in your professional aura and distract attention from the purpose of conducting a meeting in the backdrop of a more relaxed setting than an office or a conference room. In order to make a positive impression, it is critical that executives are poised and at ease with the rules of formal dining etiquette. provides the recipe to successfully navigate the seven courses:

Keep the conversation going: Although the business meal is essentially meant to transact business in a relaxed ambience, let not business concerns dominate conversation in between courses. You do not have to be scintillatingly witty but try being an interesting dinner conversationislists to keep up the smooth flow of conversation. If you share nothing in common with your host, encourage him to speak about his her professional background. Do not ask questions that can be construed as personal. Do not forget to switch your mobile phone while conversing with your host. It sends a signal that the person sitting next to you is important for the following hour.

Posture: Sit up straight at the table, with your arms close to your body. It makes the right impression. You should neither lean on the back of the chair nor bend forward to place elbows on the table. Elbows on the table are acceptable only in between courses not while you are eating on the table. By doing so, you will be blocking dining space. Keep your elbows folded and rest your wrists rest lightly on the table.

Sip on ...

  Tea bags should be placed against the edge of your saucer after the excess liquid has been squeezed out.

Remove long-handled spoons from iced tea or coffee before drinking.


If coffee or tea slops into your saucer, ask for a new saucer. If this is inconvenient use paper napkins to absorb the liquidelf.


If there are olives, onions or cherries in your drink, wait until all the liquid is drunk then tip the glass back to allow the garnish to slip into your mouth.


Never dunk anything into your drink.


Don't ever blow on a hot drink to cool it. Stir it quietly and/or wait until it cools.

Use of napkin: Typically, you may want to place the napkin on your lap soon after sitting down at the table (but follow your host's lead). The napkin remains on your lap throughout the entire meal and should be used to gently blot your mouth. If you need to leave the table during the course of the meal, place the napkin on your chair not on the table. If your napkin falls on the floor during a very formal event, do not retrieve it. You should be able to signal a member of the serving staff that you need a fresh one. Once the meal is over, place the napkin neatly on the table to the right of your dinner plate. It should not be crumpled or twisted, which would reveal untidiness or nervousness, respectively; nor should it be folded, which might be seen as an implication that you think your hosts might reuse it without washing.

Ordering: This is the trickiest part of the meal. As a rule do not order alcohol, if your host does not drink. As a guest, you should not order the most expensive dish on the menu unless the host urges you to do so. If you are still mastering the art of eating with the fork and the knife, order foods that are simpler to cut with these instruments.

Ordering Wine: Avoid ordering hard liquor, stick to cocktails or wine. If you are served chilled wine hold the glass by the stem. Wine served at room temperature is held by the bowl. Remember, the wineglass is placed at the right of the table and salad and the and breadbasket to the left. If you are the only person who does not drink, do not feel dismayed or create a fuss. When your host asks you for your choice merely say. "Not today, I would prefer a fruit punch. It sounds far better than primily stating, "NO, I drink only water."

Use of Cutlery: Do not be intimidated by the bewildering array of cutlery placed next to your plate. Start with the knife, fork, or spoon farthest from your plate and work your way in, using one piece for each course. The salad fork is usually plate on your latest your outermost left, followed by the dinner fork. The soupspoon is placed on the outermost right, followed by the salad and dinner knives The dessert spoon and fork are above your plate or brought out with dessert. Remember the golden rule is to work from the outside in and you'll be fine.

Eating with a fork and knife: In general use, both spoon and fork are held horizontally by balancing them between the first knuckle of the middle finger and the tip of the index finger while the thumb steadies the handle. The knife is used with the tip of the index finger gently pressing out over the top of the blade to guide as you cut.

There are two ways to use a knife and fork to cut and eat your food. They are the American style and the European or Continental style. Either style is considered appropriate. In the American style, one cuts the food by holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand with the fork tines holding the food to the plate. Cut a few bite-size pieces of food, then lay your knife across the top edge of your plate with the sharp edge of the blade facing in. Change your fork from your left to your right hand to eat, fork tines facing up.

The European or Continental style is the same as the American style in that you cut your meat by holding your knife in your right hand while securing your food with your fork in your left hand. Your fork remains in your left hand, tines facing down, and the knife in your right hand. Simply eat the cut pieces of food by picking them up with your fork still in your left hand.

During pauses between bites, cutlery should always be placed on the plate. Place the fork on the left and knife on the right, so that they cross over the center of the plate. If you need to pass your plate for a second helping, place the fork and knife parallel to each other at the right side of the plate, so that there is room for the food.

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Basic Manners: Begin eating when everyone is served. Do not serve yourself first. Pass food to the right. After every course the server will come and take away your plate. Usually meals have three courses. The first course usually comprises soup and bread. Dip the spoon into the soup, moving it away from the body, until it is about two-thirds full, then sip the liquid (without slurping) from the side of the spoon (without inserting the whole bowl of the spoon into the mouth). It is perfectly fine to tilt the bowl slightly -- again away from the body -- to get the last spoonful or two of soup. After you have finished, place the soupspoon on the right. This is a discrete indication to the server that you have finished the meal. To butter your bread, break of a bite size piece and butter it on your plate not in the air.

During the main course do not clutter your plate. If you have ordered an Indian meal, do not make your fingers grimy with the dal or the curry on your plate. After breaking bite-sizes of the chapati, twist it into a conical shape and use the spoon to put dal into the hollow. Remember never to spit food into your napkin. If you need to remove an inedible piece of food, use the same instrument which you used to consume food. If the food spills of the pate, you can use a piece of cutlery to lift and place it at the edge of the plate.

If asked to pass salt or pepper, always keep the two together do not pass it round the table hand by hand. Lift it and place it in front of the person nearest to you. He or she will do the same till it reaches the person who asked for it.

Do not try to chew and converse at the same time. Nothing can be more unsightly and unmannered.

When you are finished: Do not push your plate away from you when you are finished eating. Leave your plate where it is in the place setting. The common way to indicate that you are finished with your meal is to lay your fork and knife diagonally across the plate. Place your knife and fork side by side, with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork, tines down, to the left of the knife. The knife and fork should be placed as if they are pointing to the numbers 10 and 4 on a clock face. Make sure they are placed in such a way that they do not slide off the plate as it is being removed.

Table manners are a visible manifestation of social skills professional deportment. Without practice, the intricacies of formal dining can be rather bewildering. Therefore, master these basics to turn the distasteful corporate dinner into an enjoyable and tasteful experience.

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