Dressed to impressed in their suit coats and ties, students in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) programs at Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way North high schools gathered at a local restaurant Monday (Oct. 22) to review dining and business etiquette with their teachers Denise Budney and Christine Ahearn.
“I know the importance of business meals,” said Budney, who worked in the corporate world before becoming a teacher.
“There were many times when meetings were held over a meal,” agreed Ahearn, who also came from the corporate world.
“I think etiquette has lost some of its importance with the younger generations,” she added, “and I want to make sure that our students are not only prepared, but comfortable with any type of situation in the business world. These are life skills.”
About 50 FBLA members gathered at Francesca’s Fortunato in downtown Frankfort for a two-hour lesson Monday, reviewing everything from how to greet one another to which fork to use when eating.
The goal was to help students feel more comfortable when they go on their first lunch or dinner interview, said Budney, so they can concentrate on the interview --not which fork to use.
“So much business is conducted over a meal,” added Ahearn. “Whether it is to impress a potential employer, win over a customer, enhance a client relationship, or acquire a promotion, you want to feel confident and at ease. You can’t concentrate on the business at hand if you are worried about which fork to use, how to eat pasta or what to do with the olive pit in your mouth.”
Students began their lesson Monday night by reviewing how to greet one another at the restaurant and how to network.
“I want you to network with people you don’t know,” said Budney, trying to get students to introduce themselves to each other.
“Put your cell phones away,” she later told students when they were seated for dinner. “They are not be seen or heard.”
Other tips reviewed included:
- Sit up straight; keep your feet flat on the floor – not crossed or wrapped around the chair legs.
- Never place used silverware back on the table.
- Never wave your fork or knife around or use them as props.
- Place the napkin folded in half (with the crease closest to your waist) in your lap.
- Pass the salt and pepper or the cream and sugar together even if the person only asks for one.
- Wait for the host/hostess to pick up their fork before you start to eat.
- If there is not a host/hostess, wait until everyone has been served before you begin.
- Do not speak with food in your mouth.
Students left dinner with a brochure recapping each tip. Inside was a quote from Sir Richard Steele (an Irish essayist, dramatist and politician) for them to ponder: “Etiquette is the invention of wise men to keep fools at a distance.”