Congratulations, you graduated Etiquette 101! I can’t say if you passed with flying colors, but I’ll say you passed none-the-less. Now, I hope you’re ready for Etiquette 102—‘cuz we’re gonna get real up and clean. (Opposite of down and dirty, obviously.)
1. Put your nametag on your upper-right chest
Rule of thumb—and this rule was written for righties—is to put your nametag on your upper-right chest. The reason for this is that when you go to shake hands with someone new, your nametag will be in their direct line of sight. (Feel free to go through the handshaking motion now…) Makes sense, right?
2. Put your napkin in your lap
This is a rule we were taught as children, but often forget. Put your napkin in your lap the second you sit down, or at least within the first 400 seconds. It shows you’re happy to be there, you’re going to stay awhile, and that the chef is in control—when he’s ready to serve you, you’re ready to eat!
3. Break your bread
After you’ve buttered your bread, but before you put it in your mouth, break it into smaller pieces. Breaking your bread is the equivalent to cutting your food. You don’t put the whole piece of steak on your fork, in your mouth, and bite it off—you cut it slowly and take it in as smaller pieces, right? This serves two purposes: one, you don’t get food all over your face; and two, you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
4. Order for the two of you
If you’re out with your significant other, the utmost piece of etiquette and charm advice I can offer you is to order for the two of you. Of course, ask her what she’s having, and how she likes it first. Then, when the waiter comes to take your orders, order hers (“The lady will have…”) and then yours. It will catch her off guard, in a surprising and gentlemanly manner.
5. Let the most important person in the room take the first bite
When dining out for business or pleasure, let the most important person in the room take the first bite. This is the old “The Birthday Boy Takes the First Bite of Cake Rule” as applied to grownups.
6. Bring your food to you (instead of you to it)
Pizza aside, bring your food to you (instead of you to it). What I mean to say is, keep good posture, be clean, and do not be lazy…while eating. The best example is with soup, where in very formal settings you’re actually supposed to scoop your soup away from you and then bring it too you—think “soup U-turn.” This away-from-you before to-you motion will also slow down your eating, improving your digestion and table conversation.
7. Don’t let others see the bill
If you plan on picking up the tab, do it quickly and do it with a smile on your face. Don’t let others see it. A true gentleman doesn’t need to flaunt the bill, or the wad he’s slipping in the sleevelet.
8. When you’re finished with your meal, turn your silverware to 5:20pm
Like putting your napkin in your lap, this is a cue for chefs and waiters (and your company); this lets them know you’re done with your dish. I can’t say whether turning your empty plate into a clock that reads 5:20pm serves a purpose beyond etiquette, but just do it™.
9. Business cards are exchanged, not given
Self-explanatory—if someone gives you their business card, give them yours back. If you do not have cards, do the cliché thing and say, “Oh, I just ran out.” If you do have cards, but maybe don’t want to further the relationship, give them your card regardless! You don’t have to actually contact them, or respond to their contact, but exchanging cards is the proper etiquette thing to do.
10. Tip well
Tipping well is 80% etiquette… 20% karma.
Now, go forth and be classy.