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Business Dinner Etiquette

Madhura Pandit
When attending a business dinner, there is a specific etiquette that one needs to follow in order to avoid embarrassment. Here is a guide for improving dining skills.
A formal dinner often tends to intimidate people. Amateurs or those experiencing it for the first time seem to be at loss when it comes to a very formal event, accompanied by dinner. However, if you follow a set of rules, you can confidently face it without being nervous.

Basic Dinner Rules

One is expected to follow a code of conduct right from arrival, dinner to departure.


The rules and etiquette for a business dinner begin right from the time you arrive as a guest or a host to the event.
  • Arriving on the scheduled time is very important during a formal function. If you are the host, it is advisable to reach the venue earlier to check the arrangement and the menu.
  • If you are going to be late as a guest, due to unavoidable reasons, call up the host and inform him well in advance.
  • As a guest, Do Not ever get a gift or flowers for the host during a formal dinner. Gifting is acceptable only if you are invited for dinner at their home.
  • A gentleman is always expected to escort a lady, help her with her coat, and pass it to the attendants.
  • The host is required to assist the guests in sitting arrangement or inform them where they should be seated.
  • The guests, on the other hand, should not sit before they have been informed about the sitting arrangement. They can be seated in case there are placards placed on tables.


Table manners always play an important role in making a positive impression. Here are formal dinner etiquette that one needs to follow as a host or a guest.
  • One should not place bags, cell phones, etc., on the dining table. The napkin should be placed on the lap.
  • The guests should not begin the meal before everyone's served. The hosts, on the other hand, should begin eating when everyone is served as the guests follow the hosts.
  • When the table is set formally, one should begin with the outermost cutlery and work one's way in. When in doubt, follow the host.
  • In the European style, food is cut with the knife in the right hand, and eaten with the fork in the left. Whereas, in American style, food is cut with the knife in the right hand and then eaten by switching the fork to the right hand.
  • Used cutlery should never be placed on the table; it should rather be placed back in the plate.
  • It is advisable to maintain a proper pace that matches with the rest of the diners while eating.


Of course, the bill or the check is collected by the host and dealt with discreetly. It is also a proper business etiquette for the host to pay for the business clients. In a uber-formal dinner, the gentlemen are expected to assist the ladies when they rise from the chair.
Once the guests leave, the host must thank the waiter or the assistant in the hotel for the service and leave.
These are a few simple rules to follow. So the next time, do not get intimidated. A bit of practice and following these tips will help you attend these events confidently. Good luck!