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Whether a business or personal setting, dining with someone who has bad manners or appears disengaged is not only rude, but can be frustrating and unpleasant for everyone at the table. In some situations, such as a job interview lunch, a client dinner, or even a first date, this can be a deal maker or breaker.
Beyond politely navigating your place setting, show others at the table that you’re enjoying the conversation and are interested in being with them. Here are three easy ways:
- Your posture. Sitting slumped or hunched can indicate disinterest and disrespect. Turning away from your dinner companions can silently tell them you’d rather be elsewhere. Sit up straight, set your shoulders back and your knees together, keep your elbows at your sides and lean in. Good table posture lets others know you’re interested and fully engaged.
- Your device. When you’re having a meal together, have a meal together, as I like to say. Put your device away and set it in silent mode. Just having your phone on the table during a job interview lunch or client dinner can communicate that your phone is more important than your potential job, or getting to know your client better. When you’re with family and friends, enjoy their wonderful company and conversations device free.
- Your eye contact. If you keep glancing toward the door every time someone enters the restaurant, or look up every time someone passes your table, your table mates may feel they aren’t interesting enough to look at while they’re talking. If you’re waiting for another person to join your table, or need to signal your server, politely let your dining mates know your intentions, and do your best to keep your eyes on them at the same time you’re conversing.
Simple and polite gestures such as these make and leave lasting impressions at and beyond the dinner table, and can oftentimes help seal the deal.