I love to eat! If you are looking for the best dishes at local eateries, I’m the gal to ask. Many of my adventures surround food — I can’t go shopping on the magnificent mile without stopping for the Asian nachos at the Grand Lux. Visiting the East Coast and not having Maryland crab cakes is a sin as far as I’m concerned. It’s true, many a good time and many a good memory have happened over a meal. Think about how much of your life happens over a meal … pretty amazing, isn’t it? Whether you’re dining with business or social reasons in mind, there is no better place to make a great impression. The secret to your success is to remember first and foremost that we don’t go out to eat with others because we’re hungry. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s the truth. The fact is, the reason we dine with others is about the social experience. So the next time you head out to eat, keep these tips in mind.
Know Your RoleDid you invite someone out to eat with you? If so, you’re the host and as such you have a few important responsibilities. First and foremost is choosing the location. Keep in mind that the restaurant you choose becomes an extension of who you are, so make sure it conveys the proper message. You want to choose something that is convenient for your guest, but make sure that you have experience with the service and atmosphere. The host should always arrive early so they can greet their guest upon arrival. It is a good idea to take these extra few minutes to let the wait staff know that you will be handling the bill in its entirety. That’s right; the host has the responsibility of paying the bill. Letting your server know ahead of time takes the guesswork out of their job and prevents the awkward tug-of-war for the bill at the meal’s conclusion. If another invites you out to eat, then you are the guest. Your main responsibilities are to follow the lead of the host, compliment their restaurant choice and promptly send a thoughtful note of thanks for their kindness.
Mind Your MannersEating is not the most aesthetically pleasing thing we do, which is why it’s imperative to mind our manners. Your mom was right — you should never chew with your mouth open or talk when your mouth is full. Anyone over the age of five should cut their food one bite at a time, never all at once. Napkins are to be placed neatly on your lap and should not return to the table until you are completely finished eating. If you must leave the table during the meal your napkin should be placed on the seat of your chair. Once a utensil has been used, it is best to put it in proper resting position, never back on the table. Speaking of utensils, it may be tempting to use them as a “mirror” to check your lipstick or teeth, but please refrain at all costs. Grooming is only to be done in the privacy of the powder room.
Don’t Order the Meatball SandwichIt’s not that I have anything against meatballs, but it’s best to order something easy to manage when you’re in control of ordering your own food. Remember, eating isn’t pretty to begin with and there is no need to add to the visual distraction by attempting to eat something messy. A few items that I find tricky include salads, pastas, burgers, French dip sandwiches and sushi. On the other hand, I’ve rarely had a chicken breast or piece of salmon that has been hard to manage. Soup is a good choice too, just remember to scoop away instead of towards you to show your sophistication and protect your clothing from spills. I hope you take time to go out and have great conversation over a lovely meal. While you’re enjoying the experience, remember the wise words of Emily Post, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” To find out more about this topic, check out the Mieshel Image blog at www.mieshelimage.com.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.