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  • Litzy Rodriguez

Dinner Etiquette: Perfecting the Professional Image

In the corporate world, the quality of one’s work does not solely determine one’s success; it is also about how one navigates a social situation. Dinner etiquette is essential in shaping perceptions and fostering relationships that vary between a boss, client, or potential collaborators. In this blog, I reflect on the experience of attending a dinner etiquette workshop hosted by CWU Career Services and led by Arden Clise.

At this dinner, I found myself with other students whose studies varied from science education, project management, and environmental science. Before the dinner began, those seated at my table discussed what motivated us to attend this workshop. Of course, we were looking forward to a free dinner. Still, we wanted to avoid finding ourselves at a job interview and getting distracted over what fork to use and which side the bread plate sits on (left side, always).

As a kid, my mom taught me dinner table manners, but I only saw high-class dinner etiquette lessons used as a gimmick on TV shows. The closer I get to fully stepping into the corporate world of PR, the more I realize the possibility of meeting a client over dinner and the importance of navigating that scenario appropriately.

The first lesson of the workshop was that the food is not the focus of any professional dinner, which is a concept I’m still grasping. Throughout the workshop, each table conducted a mock dining session with discussions about appropriate dinner conversation topics, the order of utensils used in a multi-course dinner, and the importance of following the lead of the host.

Ultimately, I left with meaningful connections with the young professionals I was seated with and confident in shaping perceptions in any dinner scenario. Whether proper dinner etiquette will be critical to my success or not, I can’t say for sure. Still, participating in this workshop did not only elevate my personal brand, but the lessons I learned may guide me in the culture of professionalism within any industry I land in as a PR professional.

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