How Your Table Manners Affect Your Career

By Epoch Video
Epoch Video
Epoch Video
June 4, 2014 Updated: June 4, 2014

It’s National business etiquette week and it’s here to remind us the importance of minding our business manners and being courteous—including our table manners. Yes, table manners! And without it, our careers and bottom lines can suffer.

“It’s one of those things that a lot of people think: nobody pays attention to that anymore.” business expert Susan Solovic says. “But people are not going to say to you: we’re not doing business with you because your table manners are awful or you’re rude; they’re going to walk away and go do business with their competitor or hire someone else.”

With the rapidly changing work environment, it’s difficult to come up with a strict set of dos and don’ts. Luckily, a lot of these mannerisms are either simple or common sense, but a little change can go a long way to guarantee a good impression! Here are some things to keep in mind for your next business meeting:

Digital Devices

It’s common sense to put them away if you’re having a meeting or lunch—unless if you’re having an emergency. Using your digital devices during a meeting can be distracting and it shows that you are not focusing on the individual at all times.


This is less obvious. The best way to build careers and businesses is to introduce yourself to others and make connections face to face. It goes as simple as knowing the person’s name and saying something personal about them.

Respect Time

When meetings start at a set time, it’s crucial to arrive at that time. This is because people have set aside that time and arranged schedules for you—being fifteen, twenty or thirty minutes late is rude and disrespectful.

It’s also important not to cancel those meetings at the last minute. This wastes time for the people who reserved space for you when they could be spending that time on something else.

Table Manners

Sometimes businesses will take you out to lunch to observe your table manners. And not knowing which bread plate to use or what coffee cup is yours would make the dining setting uncomfortable for everyone else. This will show that you are either ignorant or not respectful enough to care.

Email Ps and Qs

Don’t reply all and avoid using humor in your emails because it could cause the recipient to feel offended. Of course, avoid using all capital letters (or using capslock) otherwise it will make your email sound as if you’re screaming at the other person.  

Dress to Impress

If you’re not sure whether to dress in business casual, don’t show up in it! It’s important to dress one-step above the usual wear than to be underdressed. Not showing up in appropriate attire is considered very disrespectful.

Show Gratitude

The good old-fashioned handwritten thank you note should do the trick. But if you’re going to use email, email to that person immediately after the meeting.  Depending on the situation, you can send them a follow-up handwritten note as a sign of gratitude. Not only will it leave a good impression on you, but it also shows the respect he or she deserves. 

Epoch Video