Students Practice Proper Etiquette in Preparation for Business World

June 01, 2010

Don't talk with your mouth full. Sit up straight. Wait until everyone is served to begin eating.

While these dinner manners may seem obvious, approximately 40 Mount Union College students were guided, beginning with the basics, on how to exhibit proper etiquette at formal functions.

Led by Cynthia Ewing, wife of Dr. Jack Ewing, president of the College, the luncheon served as preparation for students entering the business world. "Manners speak volumes about us," Ewing said before the luncheon began. "Proper table manners are very important in making a good impression."

As a component of a business administration course, Professional Development, the luncheon addresses what Career Services Director Becky Doak believes is an important function of business. "I feel students are not exposed to this type of thing," Doak said, who teaches the course. "It is essential to advancement in the corporate world."

Students were led step by step through the meal, beginning with seating, ending with dessert and touched on important principles in between.

Ewing instructed the students, mostly juniors and seniors, on various aspects of dining manners, and ordered them with proper protocol.

For example, start on the outside and work in when figuring out which silverware to use, regardless of how many courses there are. Only cut one piece of meat at a time - a task for most students at the event who were tempted to slice up their entire piece of chicken.

When passing food, think of the other diners first. Offer it to the person on the right, take some for self and then pass it to the left. This illustrated one of the keys Ewing was trying to offer the students. "In the long run, you'll benefit from putting others first," she said.

That key resonates throughout the rest of her advice.

Don't try to dislodge stuck food while sitting at the table. Just wait for hot beverages or soups to cool down, rather than blowing on them. Refrain from saying something that may embarrass the host, as Ewing demonstrated through a story detailing how her fork broke, but how she chose not to bring attention to it at all.

When asked to pass the salt, send pepper along with it. Avoid controversial topics, but ask interesting questions. Send a thank you note to the host in a timely manner.

With all of these hints in mind, Ewing encouraged the students to not think so hard about what they might be doing wrong. "All of us make mistakes," she said, "so just relax and enjoy."

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