Archive March 2014 XV, No. 3

Ask the Etiquette Doctor: Help! I Don't Know Which Dinner Roll Is Mine

Good table manners make a favorable impression. Think 'BMW.'

Kathleen Pagana, PhD, RN


business meal etiquette DINING WITH CLASS You'll feel more confident at business meals if you don't commit dining etiquette blunders. For starters, remember what BMW stands for.

DEAR KATHY: I recently attended a wedding and think I ate the wrong dinner roll. I have a dinner interview scheduled for a new position. Can you tell me what I need to know at a business meal?


DEAR DINING DISASTER: You are smart to realize the importance of dining etiquette at an interview. You want to be relaxed and not worried about dining blunders. Think BMW (as in the car) and you won't make a mistake. BMW stands for bread, meal, water. See the illustration. Bread and all food to the left of the entrée or meal plate belong to you. This includes salad and soup. Water and all drinks to the right of the meal plate belong to you. This includes wine glasses and coffee cups.

DEAR KATHY: As the nurse manager of an outpatient surgery center, I am responsible for introducing new employees to the staff. Is there a proper way for making introductions?


DEAR CONFUSED: Yes, there is, and it's easy to learn. It's a matter of identifying the person of higher rank and presenting (introducing) the other person to him or her. Rank depends on position of importance or seniority. For example, the hospital CEO is of higher rank than the VP of marketing. Let's take an example related to your job as nurse manager. If you are introducing the new surgeon (John Brown) to the head nurse (Karen Cooper), the surgeon is the person of higher rank. His name is mentioned first. Here is how the 3-part introduction should proceed with guidelines and examples:

  1. Mention John's name first and introduce Karen: "John Brown, I'd like to introduce Karen Cooper."
  2. Say something about Karen: "Karen has been the head nurse here for 8 years."
  3. Say something about John: "John is our new surgeon specializing in orthopedics."

Notice that the 3-part introduction was book-ended with the higher ranking person. Practice this. If you forget, just make the introduction. Any form of introduction is better than no introduction.

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