Dapper Dining – “Digging In” to Professional Etiquette

By Claire Klieger

On February 7th, around 70 Swarthmore students gathered at the Inn at Swarthmore for a mocktail hour and three-course, sit-down dinner with professional development and etiquette coach, Janis Moore Campbell. Over the course of the evening, Janis shared advice for expertly navigating professional and social spaces with everything from how to know which glass is yours on a table to tipping standards for dining, hotel stays and parking attendants. It was a truly enjoyable and informative evening! While Janis shared many useful tips, here are some particularly memorable standouts:

Introducing yourself effectively

Many of us may have been taught to start this introduction with “My name is.” However, more powerful and memorable of an opening is to simply begin with “I’m _[your name – first AND last]__.” Interestingly, research shows that in addition, adding a small beat between your first and last name makes it much more likely that the person or persons with whom you’re interacting will remember your name.

De-Mystifying table settings

In a more formal dining setting it can be tricky to know which glass is yours or which fork to pick up. While we’re including a diagram below with more details, you really only need to know two tricks to avoid any mishaps:

1) “BMW” – Bread (on the left), Meal (in the middle), Water (on the right). Alternatively, you can use your fingers to remember. If you form the lower case letters “b” with your left hand and “d” with your right, it’s easy to remember that “b” (bread plate) is on the left of your plate and “d” (drink) is on the right.

2) Utensils – move from the outside in. If there is a multiple course meal, you will often have more than one fork or spoon setting at your table. You usually can’t go wrong to simply start with the utensil on the outer edge and work your way towards the plate with each subsequent course (see diagram below).

Image of formal table setting with tables for bread plate, water glass, dessert fork and spoon, salad fork, dinner fork, and soup spoon.

Kindness matters – to everyone, at all levels

Actions speak louder than words and in professional settings, we are often judged by how we treat others. No matter the level of position of those with whom you interact, it is important to treat others with respect and dignity. Whether you’re meeting with the CEO of a company or the housekeeping staff who empty your trash, you should greet people warmly and personably. When interning or working at an organization, take time to learn (and use) the names of people with whom you interact.

By Claire Klieger
Claire Klieger Assistant Vice President & Executive Director