Rules to dine by


by Jess Nickels (’21)

Etiquette coach, Susan Laser, led the OPDE event.

SUMMARY: The Office of Professional Development and Engagement hosts an etiquette dinner each semester.

The Office of Professional Development and Engagement works to host a wide variety of events for students to hone their business acumen and practice their networking skills, preparing them for workplace success.

In the OPDE’s repertoire of professional development events is their etiquette dinner. Each semester, students are welcome to attend a “dinner party” where etiquette coach, Susan Laser, coaches students on proper dining etiquette for a formal setting.

Although this may seem like a thing of the past, many hiring managers and businesses choose to hold meetings or interviews over a shared meal. Hence, knowing and understanding proper dining etiquette can make or break the deal. 

College of Business: How did you become an etiquette coach/how did you get into this field?
Laser: Several years ago, I attended a Valentine’s Etiquette Dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta. I loved it and wanted to know more. I devoured books on the subject and eventually attended Perfectly Polished, The Etiquette School, in Athens, Georgia. In the past 15 years, I have worked with universities, Fortune 500 companies and private enterprises. As the former Museum Educator at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, I frequently included etiquette in my children’s programs.

CoB: Why is it important to learn about dining etiquette?
Laser: Dining can be a critical part of a job interview, networking, or meeting with a client. Knowing the rules of dining etiquette allows you to be confident and focus on the purpose of the meeting.

CoB: In a dining situation, what is the first way to make a good impression?
Laser: RSVP! The best way to make a positive first impression is to respond to the invitation in a timely manner. Not responding or being late in your response is the first way to make an unfavorable impression.

CoB: Do you know where these “rules” originate? 
Laser: The concept of etiquette has been around for a very long time. The first rules of etiquette were created in 17th century France to remind palace visitors of appropriate behavior. In the 18th century, etiquette was used to denote social status. In the 19th century, etiquette became applicable as guidelines for all ages, regardless of social standing. Throughout time, some of the rules served a purpose and some were just plain silly. Today, etiquette serves to promote social norms and facilitate civility.

CoB: Can you explain the proper etiquette for the following and why:

1. Finishing the soup in your bowlsoup_310x310.jpg
Laser: I am often asked if you can tilt your soup bowl to get that last little bit of soup. The answer is yes but be sure to tilt the bowl away from you. Otherwise, if there is an accident, it will end up in your lap.

2. Salt and pepper passing
Laser: Salt and pepper shakers should be passed together. Never hold the shakers by the top or by putting your hand across the top where the salt and pepper will touch. Imagine if someone sneezed and then handed the shakers with their hands on top, and the salt and pepper touch the tops as it flows on to your food.

3. Napkin placement when leaving the table
Laser: If you are leaving the table but plan to return, leave your napkin on your chair. When the meal is completed and you will not be returning, place the napkin to the left side of your plate, loosely folded.wine_hold_310x310.jpg

4. Hand placement with beverages
Laser: Always hold a glass by the stem. Holding a glass by the bowl will change the temperature of the beverage.

CoB: In your own opinion, why do you believe learning proper etiquette is still relevant today?
Laser: Etiquette is most certainly relevant today. Conveying courtesy and civility in the workplace will create a professional atmosphere which will reflect on you personally, as well as facilitate communication among colleagues.

Bon appétit!

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Published: Thursday, October 6, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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