In todays inter-reliant, international and culturally diverse world economy, cross cultural differences can have an impact on business success. Both at an individual and organisational level understanding the values, etiquette and protocol of different cultures can positively influence your dealings in the worldwide marketplace
A lack of cross cultural awareness can result in misinterpretations which may cause offense. Such outcomes may end in your reputation being tarnished and your business objectives impacted. Cross cultural understanding and appreciation of foreign etiquette is important for todays globe trotting business person to avoid such negative repercussions.
One area of importance in cross cultural awareness is the different dining etiquettes of the world. Understanding dining etiquette can help international business people polish their conduct and behaviour while dining or entertaining.
Cross cultural dining etiquette involves considering the following points:
Seating is there a protocol as to who sits where? Should one wait to be seated? Is it acceptable etiquette for men/women to sit next to one another? Eating - what utensils, if any, are used? Is it a knife and fork, hands or chopsticks? Is there any etiquette around using them? Body language how should one sit? Is it bad etiquette to rest elbows on the table? If seated on the floor what is the correct position? Conversation is the meal the proper place to engage in conversation? If so, is discussing business appropriate? The food what foods are common to eat? Is it good etiquette to compliment the cook and how? Does one finish everything on the plate? Is it polite to ask for more. Home/restaurant - what differences in etiquette or protocol would there be? Does one take a gift to the home? Who pays the bill at a restaurant?
By way of outlining some of the cross cultural differences in dining etiquette across the world, the following countries shall be used as examples:
Dining Etiquette in Germany
It is good etiquette to remain standing until shown where to sit. Table manners are continental fork in left hand and knife in right. Do not begin eating until the host signals to do so. It is bad etiquette to rest elbows on the table. Try and cut food with the fork as it compliments the cook by showing it is tender. Everything should be eaten on the plate. Indicate you have finished by lying the fork and knife parallel across the right hand side of the plate.
Dining Etiquette in Japan:
An honoured guest sits at the centre of the table furthest from the door and begins eating first. Learn to use chopsticks never point them, never pierce food with them, rest them on the chopstick rest when breaking for drink or chat. It is good etiquette to try a bit of everything. Conversation is subdued.
Dining Etiquette in Turkey:
Meals are a social affair. Conversations are animate and loud. The head of the family or honoured guest is served first. It is good etiquette to insist the most senior is served first instead of you. Asking for more food is a compliment. If taken to a restaurant, Turkish dining etiquette has strict rules that the one who extended the invitation must pay.
Dining Etiquette in the USA:
The fork is held in the right hand and is used for eating. To use the knife, the fork is switched to the left hand. To continue eating, the fork is switched back to the right hand. If you are more comfortable eating in the Continental manner it will not offend anyone. Foods or drinks can be refused without causing offense. Many foods are eaten by hand.
Dining Etiquette in the Middle East:
Guests are honoured with prime choice of meats head, eyes, etc. Eaten with right hand only. Meat is torn by holding down the piece against the dish and ripping off a desired amount with forefinger and thumb pressed together Rice is scooped up. Do not be afraid of making a mess. If you are finished leave food on your plate otherwise it will be filled immediately. It is proper etiquette to compliment the host on the food and his hospitality.
The above are a very small number of examples of cross cultural differences in dining etiquette. It is prudent to try and ascertain some facts about the dining etiquette of any country you plan to visit on business. By doing so you present yourself to the best of your ability and maximise the potential of your business trip.
An Accessory may be a thing of secondary or subordinate importance but one cannot deny that they add to the beauty, convenience and effectiveness of whatever they are accessorizing.
The dining table is definitely one of the most important piece of furniture in any home. For it is over this piece that the family gathers two to three times a day, to share not only their meals but also their thoughts and deeds. Therefore it is very necessary that a lot of thought goes into choosing the table that would suit your purpose.
While choosing a dining table one has to take into consideration a few points. Like for example design is important but not at the cost of basics. All tables should have a height of 30 inches and correspondingly the chairs should have a height of 18 inches whereas for kids an extra cushion can be added.
For a table for two to four persons, the convenient size is 3 feet square (minimum 2.5 feet square is required), or 4 by 2 feet rectangle or 3 feet diameter if it's a round table. For more than four people, you have to choose between a rectangle or round table with the size increasing correspondingly to the number of persons you want to accommodate on one table. Availability of space is however the prime aspect. The material and design come next, which has to complement the rest of the dιcor. Wood is still the most preferred choice. Allow good leg space and facility for chairs to be pushed in when not in use. Chairs should be sturdy and designed to support the right posture for sitting. A water- proof tabletop is the most ideal.
A side table should ideally, compliment all dining tables. It not only has a utility value but can also add to the aesthetics and make the room look full. It can be utilized to keep crockery, cutlery, glassware, jugs, mats, ice buckets, napkins, coasters, candle stands, cruet sets, flower vases, menu stands, other decorative pieces, trays etc. If space provides one can also keep preservatives like pickles, sauces etc. It definitely increases the efficiency of service. Make it a point however to ensure that after the meal all things come back to the side table properly washed, wiped and stacked in its original place.
The worktop of the side table should be at 34 inches from the ground. You can have the display cabinet designed upto a height of 72 inches above the worktop, fitted at the back of the side table. Width of the side table should be 18-24 inches. Upto the worktop, the side table can have cupboards with shelves and drawers to keep various things. They should be lined with sound absorbing cloth. You can also keep an electric heating plate on top, which can keep a few dishes warm while they wait their turn to be served. With the side table at your service you can empty your dining table and double its use for study etc.
To the Manners Born
The word Manners is defined in dictionary as social conduct as per the rules prevalent in the society that one lives in. And if one aspires to attain any degree of social standing it is absolutely necessary to conform to these rules. There are Manners set for every aspect of social existence among which Table Manners play an important part in making a favourable impression. They are visible signals of our behaviour and upbringing and therefore essential to professional as well as personal success.
How to Behave at the Dining Table
Posture: Sit up straight at the table, never lean backward, nor forward and also never let the elbows touch the table. This makes a good impression. When you are not eating, keep your hands on your lap or rest on the table.
"Please" and "Thank you" are basic manners at the table: Say "Please" when asking people to pass you something and "Thank you" when you receive something.
The best way to use a napkin: The napkin should be placed on the lap to catch crumbs or drips while eating food and should be kept back on the table neatly, after the meal is finished.
Food is passed at a family meal by the head of the family or the host/hostess: It is often passed in a counterclockwise movement around the table.
Wait for others to start eating. In many homes they say a prayer first.
It is best to order foods that can be eaten with a knife and a fork. Finger foods can be messy and are best left for informal dining.
The only way to eat is slowly and quietly. Chew small bites of food and swallow with the mouth closed.
Smoking should not be done while dining out.
One should avoid touching nose, teeth and combing hair while dinning.
The table and tablecloth should be kept clean. Do not put bones or any other morsels on the table.
Avoid spitting anything out. If there is something in the mouth, which can't be swallowed, quietly put it in a paper napkin and then continue. (e.g. bones, seeds, etc.)
End the meal properly. When a person has finished eating, the fork and the knife are placed diagonally crossed across the plate, this is the best way to inform the server that you have finished eating.
When you have finished eating, express appreciation for the meal. You can perhaps say "What a delicious meal! Thank you so much." And then wait for all to be finished before leaving the table.
Some Important Table Manners
To handle some of the unfortunate and embarrassing moments while eating food, following are some tips:
If some beverage or food is spilled on some guest while eating: The best way is to handle the situation with a calm and quiet frame of mind. Apologise first and then using the cloth napkin and water wipe it gently or else gently guide the guest to the wash room.
When a bug appears: If a bug or anything of that sort appears in your salad etc. quietly send it back but do not point it out because it might ruin the entire dinner for the rest of the people.
To remove a distasteful food item from the mouth: The food should be removed in the napkin discreetly and the food morsel should be kept out of view from others.
If a piece of silverware falls onto the floor: It should be picked up if one can reach it and the server should be told to replenish it with a clean one.
Some food items can be eaten with fingers: Some food tastes better when eaten with fingers. So you can eat with your fingers provided you use just the first two segments of the thumb, the index and middle fingers to pop the food into the mouth. Avoid licking fingers after finishing the food. Food should be always eaten with right hand.
Buffet Set Up and Services
buffet meal is the most convenient way to serve a group of people at informal gatherings. It is usually set up on a large dining table on which food is laid out in a particular order to make it more navigable and attractive. It should be bright, inviting and in sufficient quantities with the marvelous aromas wafting across. All buffets whether they are cozy, noisy or sophisticated should contain an element of joy and merriment.
In this type of setups, the plates should be stacked at the end of the table from where the service is going to begin. The entire cutlery, along with other crockery, should be placed next to the plates. The food placed on the buffet table should follow the order of the courses of the menu (salads, soup, main courses, breads, accompaniments, etc). Desserts can either be kept on the same buffet table or on a separate dessert section, where a variety of desserts can be displayed.
The term 'Buffet' service means self-service so the guests normally serve themselves, but if the host wants to give a personalized service to his guests, he can serve them. At the buffet table if the service of any dish is difficult for the guests to manage while holding the plate, an appropriate server should be arranged to serve that particular dish.
Plated Service and set up:
In this type of service, the dishes should be pre-plated in the kitchen and placed at individual covers as soon as the guests are seated. The food should be served in order of the courses of the menu - soup being the first and dessert being the last. If desired, additional food may be placed in the center of the table or on an extra table adjacent to the dining table.
25th June 2007 From India, Madras
Here is the article on Dining etiquette.Just Look at my next post,i Will tell you about cooperate dressing for Men,Women.
Dining etiquette Q & A:-
Q: Why are meals part of interviews?
A: Employers may want to see you in a more social situation to see how you conduct yourself, particularly if the job for which you are interviewing requires a certain standard of conduct with clients and superiors. You could be critically scrutinized on your table manners and conduct. On a practical level, interviews that last for several hours may extend through mealtimes, and the employer is acting as a gracious host to provide you with meals. The meal is a time to visit and interact, and this is always more important than the function of eating.
Q: Who should sit down first?
A: You should wait for your interviewer/host to ask you to sit down before taking your seat. If he/she doesn't ask you to sit, wait for him/her to be seated, then sit.
Q: Is it okay to sit with my legs crossed?
A: You should not push your chair back and cross your legs until the meal is completely finished. During the meal, sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor or cross your legs at the ankle. Crossing your legs during the meal can cause you to slouch, and looks too casual.
Q: Which salad plate, bread and butter plate, and drinks are mine?
A: Your salad plate and bread and butter plate are on your left, above your fork. Your beverages are on the right above your spoon. Remember: Solids on the left, liquids on the right.
Q: Which fork is for what?
A: Always use your silverware from the outside in. So if you have two forks, the outside fork is for salad and the fork closest to the plate is for your main course. The silverware will be removed as you finish each course. There may be a third fork outside the salad fork for appetizers. Usually no more than three utensils are placed on each side of the place setting. If a fourth utensil is needed, it is placed above the plate and is usually for dessert and/or for coffee to be served with dessert. (When you are seated, don't play with your utensils or make them a topic of conversation.)
Q: What do I do with my napkin?
A: As soon as everyone is seated, unfold your napkin and place it across your lap, folded, with the fold toward you. Do this discreetly without flourish. If you need to leave the table, place your napkin on your chair, folded loosely (NEVER wadded). Only after the meal is over should you place your napkin on the table to the left side of your plate (NEVER on your plate!).
Q: How do you wipe your mouth with the napkin? Is it considered poor etiquette to wipe one's mouth with the napkin?
A: It is considered poor etiquette NOT to use your napkin. The purpose of the napkins is to keep food off your face. Use it frequently to discreetly dap or wipe (no ear to ear swiping, please) your mouth. Replace the napkin on your lap loosely folded, not wadded and not stuffed between your legs.
Q: What do you do if you drop your napkin on the floor?
A: If your napkin falls on the floor and it is within easy reach, retrieve it. If you are unable to retrieve the napkin without drawing attention to yourself, ask the server for another one.
Q: When is it okay to begin drinking and eating? Does one wait until the host/hostess starts eating his/her meal at a restaurant?
A: If water is on the table as you are seated, it is appropriate to sip your water after everyone is seated and after you have placed your napkin in your lap. For other beverages and foods, wait until everyone has been served, and do not eat until your host/hostess has begun; when your host picks up his/her fork, this is an indicator that you may do so. Do not help yourself to the bread basket and other communal foods until your host has indicated you may do so. If you pick up the bread basket, hold the basket and offer to the person to your left, then serve yourself, and then pass the basket to the person on your right. (Same applies to butter, salad dressings, and other condiments that are passed.) The host/hostess may ask you to start eating and you should comply with the request.
Q: What do you do if your host/hostess uses the wrong utensil? Do you follow his/her lead?
A: You should eat correctly, but never point out errors of others. If you don't know how to eat a certain food, follow the lead of your host.
Q: What should I order to drink?
A: Water, juice, or iced tea are safe choices. It is best not to order alcohol even if the interviewer does. One glass of wine, sipped slowly, may be acceptable. Know your own limits. You want to remain sharp and responsive. Do not consume alcoholic beverages if you are under 21 years of age! Coffee or hot tea after the meal is okay if this is offered and if time allows.
Q: Is it rude or wrong to use multiple packets of sugar/sweetener in tea or coffee?
A: Limit yourself to one or two packets of sugar. Tear one or both at the same time Ύ of the way at the top of the packet, and leave the paper waste at the side of the plate. Using more than two packets of sugar or artificial sweetener may be seen as excessive.
Q: What is an appropriate way to explain a food allergy?
A: Refrain from talking about health during meals and in business situations. If you know the menu in advance, you can let your host know ahead of time that you cannot eat a certain food. Be pleasant about your request, and apologize for any inconvenience. This allows your host to make arrangements for you. If food you cannot eat is served to you at a meal, simply leave it. Be discreet and pleasant if you are asked why you are not eating. In a restaurant where you are ordering from the menu, you can explain any allergies discreetly to your server. Again, be pleasant and don't call attention to yourself or make this a topic of conversation.
Q: What do you do if the menu is fixed and you are served something you do not want?
A: Be polite and appreciative. Never criticize or state a dislike for a food that is served to you (something we all should have learned by age 5). This is insulting to your host. Simply eat foods you do like, and make an attempt to taste unfamiliar foods. If you are asked point blank if you like something, and it would be an obvious untruth to say you do, say something gracious like, "It's different," or "I'm not accustomed to this flavor, but I'm glad for the opportunity to try this." The job for which you are interviewing may involve business travel and dining in other other cultures than your own. You could be evaluated for you grace in such situations.
Q: What if I order from the menu but am served the wrong thing.
If it's a major mistake, you can discreetly mention this to the server immediately so that it can be corrected. If the error is small you didn't want tomatoes, but they are served to you, or you received the wrong side dish ignore it. Fussing over food can make you look childish, finicky and concerned with the wrong things (not assets in a job candidate). Your goal is to appear gracious.
Q: What is appropriate to order for dinner?
A: Simple foods that are easily eaten with a fork and knife (meats, simple salads and soups). Avoid spaghetti or other things with red sauce, huge deli sandwiches, greasy hand held items like pizza, and gassy foods like beans, broccoli, or cauliflower. Sometimes you may not have a choice. Follow your host's lead.
Q: Is it best to avoid ordering a food if you can't pronounce its name?
A: No. If you'd like it, ask the server to describe the food, and point to it on the menu.
Q: How are things like the bread basket, butter and salad dressings passed?
A: When your host indicates ("Please help yourself to bread," or something similar), the person closest takes the service plate/basket, offers it to the person on his left, helps himself, and passes to the person on his right. Always include the service plate in passing; don't, for example, lift the salad dressing bowl off the service plate and pass the bowl by itself. Foods should go from the service plate to your plate, never to your mouth. Butter should be placed on your bread and butter plate, not directly on your bread. Don't touch other people's food, and never use your used utensils to obtain food from a service plate.
Q: Is it okay to spread butter on my entire roll at one time?
A: No. It is appropriate to break off a bite-sized piece of your roll, butter it and eat it, one bite at a time. If the piece you break off is slightly too big to make one bite, it's fine to eat it in two bites, and much better than stuffing a too-large bite into your mouth.
Q: Is it okay to cut your salad if the lettuce pieces are too large?
A: Yes. Cut a few bites at a time; don't slice and dice the entire salad at once. It is preferable to cut large salad pieces than to attempt to stuff large bites of food in your mouth.
Q: How do I eat and answer questions at the same time?
A: By taking very small bites, so you can quickly finish and swallow the bite before speaking. Never speak with food in your mouth. You may not have much time to eat if you are being asked a lot of questions; remember that the main point of the meal is to interact and eating is secondary. You can initiate asking your host questions so that the conversation is more balanced and you have more time to eat. Don't eat too quickly, and don't attempt to hurridly scarf down all your food. A large, hurridly-eaten meal can make you drowsy and uncomfortable; a disadvantage if you have interviewing after the meal.
Q: How should soup be consumed?
A: Dip your spoon away from yourself to fill your spoon with soup. Rest your spoon periodically. When a service plate under the soup bowl is provided, always place your spoon on the service plate behind the bowl. If no service plate is provided, obviously you rest your spoon in the soup bowl. Used utensils are never placed on the table. Sip quietly. To finish the last bit of soup, you may slightly tip your bowl to fill your spoon.
Q: Should one go out of his/her way to use utensils when he/she is eating finger food?
A: When in doubt, eat with a utensil rather than with your fingers, even those foods (like french fries) that you may eat by hand at home. If something is served on a plate, you should use utensils! Chicken, or any other meat with a bone, is not finger food; you should use the knife and fork.
Q: If you are wearing a nametag and are having problems with it, what is the appropriate course of action?
A: If the nametag is not sticky and keeps falling off on the table or on the floor, remove it. If the nametag is in your way, move it.
Q: Is it better to spear or scoop food?
A: Scooping or spearing depends on the type of the food. Do not jab at your food; try to scoop and spear in the same action.
Q: How does one indicate having finished an appetizer or soup? Should the fork or spoon be placed in or out of the bowl?
A: When a service plate is used under the food vessel, always rest your utensil on the service plate behind the food vessel. Obviously if there is no service plate, rest your utensil in the food vessel. Your utensil always rests with the handle to your right. Never place a used utensil on the table. If plates are being cleared and you are not finished, simply lift your utensil as though you are in the process of eating. However, don't lag behind the rest of the diners; if everyone else is finished, and you're not, simply leave the remaining food.
Q: Do you always pass the salt with the pepper, even if someone asks for salt only?
A: Yes, always pass the salt and the pepper together. It is also considered rude to use it first before passing it to the person who asked for it.
Q: Is it rude to season your food before tasting it?
A: Yes. This is an insult to the chef. You should not salt and pepper your food before tasting it. Try a bite first, then season if necessary. Don't over season; this can appear childish.
Q: What do you do if there is a hair in the food?
A: You have a few choices if you find hair in the food. You can discreetly remove it, eat around it, or politely ask the server to bring you another plate. In any case, do not cause a scene and do not spoil the appetites of others at the table.
Q: Do you announce to the table if you need to be excused? What is the appropriate way?
A: You can excuse yourself from the table by saying, "Excuse me"; you do not need to offer an explanation. If you must leave during the meal, you can indicate whether you are finished eating through proper placement of your utensils. Ten and four o'clock (handles at four, knife blade toward you) indicates you are finished. Three o'clock to center (handles at three) indicated you are not finished. Do not rest utensils or utensil handles on the table.
Q: If a lady were to get up during the meal, should all men get up too?
A: Yes, men should rise when a lady leaves the table. It is not necessary to completely stand for a temporary departure. Simply rise off the seat to acknowledge her leaving.
Q: Is it appropriate to put eye drops (for contact lenses) in my eyes at the table?
A: Absolutely not. No grooming of any kind should be done at the table. You should excuse yourself for this purpose.
Q: If you are a slow eater, should you finish completely or just quit when everyone else is finished?
A: Try to stay with the pace of the meal so that you don't hold up the remaining courses. If you are lagging behind, when the others are done eating, don't make them wait on you too long.
Q: Is it ever OK to remove your jacket for heat or other reasons? Is it appropriate to ask? Does this differ for males and females?
A: As a general rule, follow the lead of the host before removing your jacket. If the host keeps on his/her jacket, keep yours on. If it is unbelievably hot, it is appropriate to ask the host's/hostess' permission. This applies to both men and women. Keep in mind that some restaurants/clubs require customers to keep their jackets on during meals.
Q: What is the correct response to someone accidentally sneezing on the table (near the food)?
A: Respond by saying "Bless you," and continue with your meal. If the person sneezed on your meal, don't eat it, but don't make an announcement about it.
Q: Where do you place the knife when you are eating?
A: Put the knife across the top of your plate when you are eating, blade facing toward you.
Q: What do you do with your soup spoon when you are momentarily not eating?
A: When you are resting, place the soup spoon on the service plate, or leave it in the bowl if there is not a service plate. When you are finished, place the spoon on the service plate.
Q: Is it okay to lick your fork/spoon before putting it down?
A: Absolutely not. Remove all food from your utensil when you remove the utensil from your mouth. Do not take partial bites off a utensil; so do not put more food on your utensil than you can place in your mouth with one bite.
Q: What if your dinner fork falls on the floor and you cannot get the server's attention?
A: Do not reach pick up dropped utensils. Wait until you get the server's attention and discreetly ask for a new utensil.
Q: How do I call the server if I need him/her?
A: You can usually catch her/his eye, but if not, you may ask a nearby server. If the matter is not urgent, wait until the server checks at the table to make sure everything is okay; be discreetly on the lookout for him/her to do so, so you won't be caught with your mouth full. Avoid getting up from the table to hunt someone down. Remember the meal is not the main purpose for your being there.
Q: What do you do if a piece of food falls off your plate?
A: If the food falls on the floor, leave it and don't step on it. If the food falls on the table and it is a big piece, use your fork and move it to a corner of your plate. Otherwise, let it be.
Q: How do you let someone know he/she has something in his/her teeth?
A: Be subtle and quiet. Do not bring it to the attention of everyone at the table and do not embarrass the person. If it is someone of importance, you may not want to cause him or her any embarrassment; so let it go!
Q: What if I get something stuck in my teeth?
A: Try to remove the lodged item with your tongue. If this does not work, excuse yourself from the table and go to the restroom. It's a good idea to go to the restroom after the meal to check your teeth and freshen up. Toothpicks should be used discreetly and in private; never at the table.
Q: What do I do if I have a bone in my mouth?
A: If you have a bone in your mouth, remove it unobtrusively with your fork, and place it on the rim of your plate. Any time something needs to be removed from your mouth, remove it be the same means (fork, spoon, fingers, etc.) that it went in.
Q: What do I do when I don't want to swallow something I already have in my mouth (such as an olive pit or a piece of gristle)?
A: If it went in with your fork, it should come out with your fork and likewise with your hands. Move it to your tongue and onto the fork and deposit it on the rim of your plate. No one should notice you doing this, because the fork to mouth motion is a common one made by anyone who is eating.
Q: How do you avoid eating a certain food? (For example, onions on a salad)
A: Discreetly eat around the food and/or move it carefully to the side of the plate or bowl. Don't make a fuss, and don't remove it from the plate.
Q: What should I do if my food is cold or doesn't taste good?
A: If your food needs to be warmer but is not unbearable, you should just eat it and not call the server over to avoid a scene. However, if it is not edible, politely call the server over and explain.
Q: What do you say when you really don't like your meal and someone asks, "How is your meal?"
A: Be polite and say, "Fine, thank you."
Q: Is it OK to rest your wrists on the edge of the table in between bites?
A: Yes, it is all right to rest your wrists on the edge of the table or place your hands in your lap, but no elbows on the table!
Q: As a left-hander, is there anything one should do differently?
A: If you are allowed to choose your seat, choose a seat where you do not hit any other person's elbows.
Q: Should you clean your plate in any particular way? (Push all uneaten food to one side?)
A: You do not have to clean your plate. It is polite to leave some food on your plate. Do not push the remaining food around on the plate
Q: What do I do to signal I am finished with my meal?
A: Your silverware should be parallel to each other in the ten and four o'clock position (as on the face of a clock), with handles at 4:00 and tops of the utensils at 10:00. The knife blade points toward you. Never place or rest used utensils on the table.
Q: What do I do when the check comes?
A: Typically in an interview, you are the guest and so the meal is paid for by the company. Your host will most likely pick up the check so you won't have to deal with it. Remember to thank your host for the meal at its conclusion.
Q: What should I do if I feel sick during the dinner?
A: If you really cannot make it through the dinner, just excuse yourself and go to the rest room. Return when you are feeling better or have the server explain that you are not feeling well.
Key Points to Remember:
1. Remember the purpose of the meal.
2. Follow the lead of your host or hostess.
3. Be discreet.
Waiting for feed back.
26th June 2007 From India, New Delhi