10 Things You Should Never Order When Dining For Business

What not to order.

You feel awkward enough dining in front of someone for the first time. Why would you want to make it any worse by choosing food that is almost impossible to eat daintily? I am constantly surprised at people’s menu choices when they’re trying to make a good table manners impression with a customer or employer. Here’s my advice and food choice tips.

Can’t take a little ribbing

One of the worst examples that someone in our dining etiquette class related to us was when she was dining with a colleague who ordered ribs at an important business lunch. Her dining partner’s face was so covered in barbecue sauce that she couldn’t even look at him for fear of laughing out loud.

Taco time?

Some of you may know that one of my favorite foods is tacos. But I’m not loco enough to order tacos at a business meal because they are impossible to eat without making a mess. You have to tilt your head, the fillings gush out over your fingers. Good food but not a pretty sight.

Forget the finger foods

Almost any food that you have to pick up with your fingers to eat should go on your business table manners no-no list. That means tacos, ribs and corn on the cob.

Food that requires a bib

Some should be self-evident advice – any food that comes with a special bib is never a good business meal choice. If it doesn’t drip on you it’ll probably squirt on your host or guest. This would include lobster, crab and things that you have to break, crack or shuck. (As in “Aw shucks, I’m sorry, did I get that on you?”)

Food that’s specially designed to fall off your fork

Even Joanne, my lovely dining etiquette training partner, rarely orders spaghetti at a business meal and she was born in Italy. (Click here to see Joanne’s hometown.) You’re asking for trouble with spaghetti especially if you’re wearing a white shirt or blouse. You just know you’re going to end up wearing it. So don’t order spaghetti, fettuccine or faloffmiforkini. If you really need a hit of pasta, our tip is to order smaller pasta like penne where you have a fighting chance of it being able to get it inna yorra mouffa withoutta problemma.

Wraps that come unwrapped

You’d think sandwiches and wraps might be a safe choice but not if they are too big for your mouth or have a stuffing that oozes out when you bite into it. (Unlessa you gotta bigga mouffa. Okay, enouffa the badda italiano.)

But Terry, all my favorite foods are messy

I’m not telling you not to enjoy messy foods. I’m just saying if it’s important to make a good impression with your table manners then save the messy dishes for more casual dining or dining with friends. So if you go to the taco restaurant I’ll be the person with the big plate of messy tacos and wearing the dark glasses and baseball hat so nobody recognizes me. (It’s not easy being a well-known dining etiquette expert.)

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Posted by Terry Pithers – the business etiquette expert and sometimes messy eater

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