Meeting with clients over a meal and a good bottle of wine can be the perfect environment to seal a deal, make new connections or build rapport with an investor.
Australian business culture is quite relaxed about social rules, but what if you’re dining with a stickler for manners?
Business Insider spoke to some of Australia’s leading social etiquette experts, Good Manners author Anna Musson, and Margo Ammit, a senior tutor at the famous finishing school June Dally-Watkins.
Many of their pieces of advice will take you by surprise – or even shock you.
For example, they say: “Ladies do not lean. They either sit or stand.” And don’t start on the bread until the food arrives.
Musson and Ammit provided a list of social etiquette tips for guests or hosts to use at a business lunch to ensure everyone is pleased with the outcome of the meeting.
When we put it to Ms Ammit from June Dally-Watkins that many people would be surprised by these rules, she agreed the appropriate etiquette depended on what both parties agreed upon.
She said: “There is etiquette to everything, even McDonalds’.
“For business people, wearing a business suit and eating a sandwich [while walking] in the CBD is not correct etiquette.
“If you choose not to use etiquette, opinions can be made about you – negative opinions about your ability.
“Etiquette is an advantage in business but people don’t have to use it.. and they obviously don’t.”
Here’s the list of the key pieces of advice from the experts – who add that everyone can exercise a personal choice over where and when to employ them.
1. Ladies should always drink from the same spot on the glass.
2. If you are only using one utensil, keep the other hand on or above the table.
3. Ladies do not swear, particularly in the company of men.
4. Ladies do not lean. They either sit or stand.
5. Do not get drunk, particularly if you are a lady.
6. The host should not pass the wine menu to the guest. This is to prevent the guest ordering the most expensive wine.
7. When you leave the table your napkin must go to the left side of your plate- not folded but loosely place- unless it is quite soiled in which case it must go on your chair.
8. A handbag must be placed on the inside left leg on the chair in a non-obstructive manner.
9. You must keep your jacket on until the host takes off theirs.
10. You should not have the same wine through the entire meal. Wine should be paired with your food. It should be “light & white” followed by reds with mains, and something sweet for dessert.
11. It is very important that the host always pays. The inviter is the payer.
12. Conversations to be avoided at the table are politics, sexual preferences, age, weight, and anything that requires a directly personal answer.
13. Never start business talk until mains have been served.
14. Never cut your bread roll with a knife. Break it into bite size pieces and then butter it.
15. Bread is an accompaniment. Wait for food to be served to eat it.
16. Time your eating pace so you finish in time with others at the table.
17. Gentlemen should always decline the stairs before a lady, in case she should trip, he can catch her.