Manners for A Business Lunch on “Take Your Child to Work Day”

by Mindy Lockard on April 25, 2012

Yesterday, Elle and Maggie came to work with me in celebration of today’s National “Take our Daughters or Sons to Work Day.” I know we were a bit early to the work-day party but it was for good reason.

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In my work with university students and young professionals, there is one thing I know to be true… we will eat for the rest of our lives. Dining, more often than not, will be done in the presence of others –especially in the professional world. But dining takes practice, which is why I jumped at the chance to join Ringside Fish House (who invites your children to dine for free today, info here) here in Portland and Fox 12 Oregon for an onair segment focusing on ways to prepare your child for a business lunch should you have them with you at work today.

And as we know, these manners are not just reserved for today… our manners and our children’s manners affect the people around us. With practice and preparation, we can make sure we help our children use their etiquette to make a positive impression. Meals don’t have to be fancy to be polite. Whether dining at a fast-food or five-star restaurant, manners should remain the same.

The key to having our children embrace manners, is to teach them not tell them. Taking a few extra moments to create fun activities around mealtime will help your children enjoy not only the food, but also the process of transporting it to their mouths. Use your home as a place where children can enjoy dining together while learning the correct manners. Then when you take your children out, they will have practiced their skills, so your gentle reminders will not be totally new information.

Here are a few manners to cover before you embark on a professional lunch on this very special “work” day:

  • Sitting still
  • Put electronics away (even you Mom and Dad) this is a great time to talk!
  • Ask to be excused from the table
  • Waiting to take the napkin until the adults takes his or hers
  • Using the napkin (placing it on the seat when excusing ones self from the table and to the left of the plate when finished)
  • Ordering with confidence, “I will have the ______” speaking with a smile and with solid volume
  • Waiting to eat until the hostess or adult starts
  • Chewing with mouth closed
  • Not speaking with mouth full
  • Thanking the hostess/server
  • Keeping elbows and body off of the table
  • Squaring up (body facing forward, square with plate)
  • Holding fork and spoon correctly (like a pencil between the index and middle fingers)
  • Not announcing dislikes of food (even at home)
  • Looking into the glass while drinking.
  • Practice American and Continental styles of dining (My Article on Forbes.com)

At whatever age, it is never too late to begin teaching mealtime manners. Good dining skills are the gateway to social confidence. We know our children will be eating for the rest of their lives and have many opportunities to do so in public. It is our responsibility as their parents to ensure they are equipped with the skills to enjoy meals with ease and confidence. . . And “Take Your Son or Daughter to Work Day” is a great time to practice some professional dining manners!

Here’s a clip from the day. After I shared my etiquette advice (video not available) the kind staff at Ringside Fish House invited the girls into the kitchen…

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