The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rocky Recap: Spring 2012 Ettiquette Dinner

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Read a student's account of our most recent Rockefeller Center special opportunity. To learn more about upcoming events and student workshops, visit our eventbrite page.  

Robert A. Shutt shares with students techniques from his Business Dining Etiquette presentation.

             From the beginning of the Etiquette Dinner, students knew that they were in for a treat. Aside from the gourmet catered meal, they were given the opportunity to be taught dining etiquette from Robert A. Shutt, etiquette expert and author of the critically acclaimed dining manual, “Shine While You Dine”. The dinner began with a networking session, in which Mr. Shutt gave pointers for engaging in polite conversation. “Keep it small” was important, as well as staying away from people that you do know in order to meet new people. Students also learned a very important tip- the nametag always goes on the right side as opposed to the left. One of the key themes throughout the evening was that the conversation is the first priority, and the food second. The meal is really just a venue for conversation and, in an interview setting, a way to learn more about the way a candidate behaves and carries herself. Mr. Shutt was entertaining, and provided several historical anecdotes that explained the origins of many of today’s etiquette practices. Etiquette began in the Middle Ages chiefly as a way to prove that there were no concealed weapons or poisons present at the table – and has evolved ever since. Overall, the most important takeaway was to follow the leader’s pace in all aspects of the dinner, from the setting of the napkin into the lap to the eating of dishes. During a professional meal, if the leader of the dinner is eating slowly, it is important not to eat too quickly, as it can come off as rude or disinterested. Throughout the evening, Shutt covered virtually every aspect of a dinner, and made sure to share stories as well – one story even involved the termination of an employee who had poor table manners (After all, if you can’t manage your own food order, how can you manage a budget?). Students were definitely taken aback by the importance of business etiquette and shocked at the level of subtlety at work at the dinner table. All left with their appetites satisfied and their manners polished, and better equipped for meals in the workplace – a great life skill.
-Will Lowry '13

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