According to culture savvy expert, Victoria Ugarte, “Knowledge of the local dining etiquette can make or break a business travel experience.” With levels of hospitality and protocol differing from country to country, not abiding by a specific country’s rules may leave the host with a negative impression of the business visitor.
Dining etiquette plays a vital part in making a favorable impression in any social situation, but more so in business where protocol plays an important role. However well one may know their table manners back home, business travelers may have to start from scratch when visiting other countries.
Author of “Culture Savvy For Women”, Victoria says, “Chances are that other cultures will have totally different dining customs to what a business traveler is used to back home. It’s up to the business traveler to educate themselves on the local social mores and conform to them.”
Victoria offers tips on what to watch out for in some cultures:
- Europeans are generally more strict when it comes to table manners than most Americans or Australians. While it may be acceptable in the more relaxed cultures of the United States and Australia to cut up food into bite sized pieces with the fork and knife, switch the fork back to the dominant hand and spear the food with it, this would spell social death at the more formal tables of Britain, France and Germany, where eating is strictly Continental style.
- Where to put ones hands while seated at the table can be another cultural minefield. While it’s considered bad manners to rest ones elbows on the table or lay hands on ones lap in the more formal tables of Europe, Americans and Australians tend to rest their hands on their laps when they aren’t eating as it is often more comfortable.
- Beware the social theatrical displays that people from different cultures engage in. Practiced by all Italians with good manners, “fare i complimenti” roughly means “to make good manners.” Applied to a dining situation in someone’s home, if the host asks the guest whether they would like more food or wine, the guest is expected to respectfully decline. This allows the host to insist on the offer, after which the guest may decide whether they’d like to accept the offer or not.
- In Latin America, it is common practice for the host to belittle and apologize for the food that they are serving. As this is done to show politeness and humility, this is the guest’s cue to be effusive with their compliments.
- Whether to eat all the food on ones plate or not depends entirely on a culture’s concept of hospitality. In Germany, leaving significant portions of food on ones plate suggests that the guest finds something wrong with the food. Likewise in France, where leaving food on the plate signifies that the guest did not enjoy the meal. In contrast, Middle Easterners consider it impolite to eat everything on one’s plate; leaving food becomes a symbol of abundance and serves to compliment the host. Similarly in China, eating all of the meal means that the guest did not receive enough food and is still hungry.
As a last word, Victoria adds, “To avoid offending the locals, it’s important to research the dining etiquette of a host country. If nothing else, one’s flexibility, humility and respect will speak volumes. While one may not always get it right, one’s efforts will always be appreciated.”
Victoria offers her readers a Free eBook, entitled “How To Enrich Your Life Through Travel”, for positive, practical advice and tantalizing travel ideas linked with inspirations for personal growth. Get your FREE eBook now: http://www.ExploreMyWorldTravel.com/bonus-download/
Source = Intrepid Traveler