Business Dining: When is it Approproate to Begin Eating?

Q: Recently I was attending a business dinner with about 30 people in our party. I thought the proper etiquette for when I could start eating in a group this large, was when the person to my right and left were both served, it was OK to begin. As I started to eat, another person in the party 4 seats down from me (and already had his food) gave me a terrible look….his thought was we need to wait for everyone in the group to be served. With a group this large, the meal came out in phases (and was already getting cold) so what should I do when faced with this situation again?

A: The “rule” is, unless the meal consists of cold courses, your fellow diners (including the host, if any) will usually urge you to go ahead and start so your food won’t grow cold. If the group is large, begin eating once at least three of you have been given your food. At a small table of only two to four people, it’s better to wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat. If the meal consists of cold courses, such as sandwiches, you should wait until everyone has been served. At a formal or business meal, you should either wait until everyone is served to start or begin when the host asks you to.

Wedding Showers: What to do for Co-Workers Going into Second Marriages?

Q: Hi, our question is about a co-worker, who we all love and care about, who is getting married in April. She and her fiance are having a private wedding, in the Dominican Republic. . There is no family attending at their request. This is her fourth wedding and his second. What we are wondering is what would be considered appropriate for us to do for her as co-workers? We would certainly take up a collection and give them a gift certificate as a wedding gift, however, is a wedding shower appropriate? They are currently living together, both with all the ‘things’ they need. It appears as though she is hinting around that she is expecting us to do something for her but we are unsure as to what is appropriate. Your prompt response is greatly appreciated.

A: Yes, it is fine for a group of co-workers to host an office shower even though they aren’t invited to the wedding. The shower in this case is their way of wishing the couple well. Therefore, it would be fine for you and other co-workers to host a shower.

Make-shift Receptionist: What should we do if one co-worker can’t participate in birthday celebrations at the office?

Q: I work in an office with five support staffers including me, and four managers.  We have a long-held tradition of acknowledging birthdays with a small celebration in the office including cake and a gift.  One of the support staff joined us only recently and we learned that her religion prevents her from celebrating birthdays.  She asked us to not acknowledge her birthday nor invite her to our birthday celebrations; she said she would not be offended. I feel it will be awkward with her right in the office while we are making merry celebrating in the conference room.  In addition, she does not know when the birthdays fall and consequently it is always a surprise to her.  In the past we all joined in on the celebrations and collaborated if the phone rang or a visitor came during the short celebration.  How do we best handle this situation?

 

 

A: Your plan to share covering the office sounds like an excellent idea.  There would be no reason for you to discontinue answering phones and visitors the way you have always done just because this co-worker could be considered available.  You can tell her that you respect her wishes and that you will let her know when parties will be taking place, but that she will not be expected to take on reception or telephone duties because you have always simply taken turns in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Picking up the Tab: Who pays the bill at a business lunch?

Q: When going to a business lunch, who should pay?  I requested a meeting with our law firm to discuss issues and they suggested we meet over lunch.

 

 

A: Unfortunately, there is no “correct” answer.  It could be argued that since you requested the meeting, you should pay.  On the other hand, since they suggested a luncheon meeting, they could be expected to pay.   The diplomatic thing to do may be, when the check arrives, to offer to pay for lunch.  In all likelihood, members of the law firm will offer to pay or split the bill.

Badge Placement: Which side of the shirt does a name tag belong?

Q: On which side of the chest should you display your name tag?

 

 

A: Although it is easier for right-handed people to put a name badge on the left side, they correctly are worn on the right side.  This is so the person shaking hands or greeting has easy eye contact with both the person and the badge as a way to help remember the name or to see where he or she is from — which is the whole purpose of wearing a badge in the first place.