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Professional Etiquette

The Business of Soft Skills in a Technical World

College students are constantly gaining knowledge through strong academic development while Career Services also offers the opportunity to buildtheir executive skills through a myriad of opportunities, among them Professional Dining Etiquette. National etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas has worked with Trinity University for the past few years, conducting the popular tradition of the Professional Dining Etiquette Workshop. Second interviews are routinely conducted over a meal and she offers the students step by step instruction on important dining skills, allowing them to feel more confident and professional at the table. A popular industry resource, Diane often says “If you think business and manners don’t mix, trying eating with your mouth full.”

Here are a few of Diane Gottsman’s tips:


  • Wear your nametag on the right side to follow the line of sight.
  • Stand for all introductions.
  • Smile and look directly into the other person’s eyes.
  • Extend your hand for a handshake. In the U.S., always aim to be the first one to reach out you hand.
  • Introduce yourself using your first and last name.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t hear the other person’s name.
  • Exit a conversation with a handshake and a polite closing, “It was very nice meeting you. I look forward to seeing you again.”

Meeting and Greeting at Lunch

  • An introduction starts with your feet. Always stand up when someone approaches the table.
  • Avoid walking up to someone at a restaurant that appears to be engaged in serious conversation.
  • A handshake is always required and introduction of each guest must follow. Think twice before disrupting the lunch meeting.
  • Wait for your guests in the front lobby (not the bar).

Dining Etiquette Basics (Extensive Detail is Offered During the Etiquette Event held on campus)

  • The table is set for the diner to use the utensils from the “outside-in”.
  • The bread plate is set on the left, drink is on the right.
  • Wait for the host to place their napkin on their lap before doing so yourself.
  • A napkin is placed on the chair when leaving the table temporarily.
  • Decline the offer of an alcoholic beverage.
  • A toast does not require a “clink”.
  • “Spoon away” from the body when eating soup.
  • The soup spoon rests on a saucer, behind the bowl between sips.
  • Salt and pepper are passed to the right, counterclockwise.
  • Gristle, bone and foreign objects are removed from the mouth with the index finger and thumb.
  • Cough and sneeze towards the left shoulder, covering your mouth with your left hand or napkin.
  • Cut one piece of meat at a time.
  • Avoid ordering spaghetti as it is difficult to consume. Instead, order rigatoni or penne pasta.
  • Using a spoon to twirl your spaghetti is discouraged as it forms a large mound.
  • Learn how to eat European Style for more efficiency and less noise.
  • Break apart, butter, and eat bread, one piece at a time.
  • Follow the lead of the host when ordering coffee and dessert.
  • Allow the host to conclude the meal by following their lead of placing your napkin back on the table.
  • Write a handwritten thank you note.