Being the Dream Guest: Part I


Polite guests reward the time and effort of throwing a party, and they are remembered for this.  Indeed, an essential part of projecting the executive image is conducting yourself properly when invited to a restaurant, a reception, or the company picnic.  As your client’s or boss’s guest, you are being evaluated in these environments.  Being a good guest contributes to your success.

            There is no question that guest manners in our society are deteriorating.  Thank-you notes are virtually unheard of.  Guests arrive late and provide little help in the kitchen.  Granted, societal trends may account for more casual atmospheres when it comes to entertaining; yet this cannot excuse plain bad manners.  Guests have responsibilities too, for the success of any party depends on them.

            Here are some tips on how to be the dream guest:

  • When you are invited to lunch or dinner, remember that it is not your responsibility to pick up the check.  It is common for a woman to invite a professional colleague to lunch.  If it truly is an invitation, let her pick up the check.
  • When a client, associate, or your boss invites you to dinner, give your response within 24 hours.  If something comes up and you have to cancel, place the call yourself.  Don’t let the secretary or leave a voice mail.
  • Confirm an appointment, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Call the day ahead if it’s for a breakfast meeting.
  • It is important, whether you’ve been invited to a restaurant, home or ballroom, that you arrive on time.  Ten minutes late is considered rude.  If you know you’re going to be late, call to change the time if possible, or call the restaurant to have your host notified.
  • If you happen to beat your host to the restaurant, wait in the lobby of entry hall until he or she arrives.  If you notice that the restaurant if filling up quickly, you can ask the restaurant host to seat you and to have the rest of the party directed there as they arrive.
  • If your host is at least 15 minutes overdue, call his or her office.  Wait for your host for about 40 minutes; if she still hasn’t shown up, either tip the waiter five to ten dollars or have something to eat.
  • When there are more than two people in the party, don’t sit down immediately when you’ve been led to your table; wait for the host to direct you. 
  • When in a large party, observe what other people are ordering.  If they haven’t ordered an appetizer or side salad, don’t be the only one.  And don’t order the most expensive item on the menu simply because it’s the most expensive.
  • When there are just two of you at a restaurant, it’s polite to wait until both have been served before eating.  If there is a long delay, then the one who has not been served should urge the other to start eating.
  • At a dinner where spouses or partners are present, remember to talk about other subjects than business.
  • If someone tells a good joke or you’re having a great time, it’s okay to laugh; just keep the noise level down so it doesn’t interfere with others.
  • Don’t “table hop.”
  • If you must make or receive a phone call, excuse yourself and go to a phone away from the table.  Keep your conversation short.
  • Don’t get drunk!  If you have had too much to drink, however, allow someone who is sober to drive you home.  Furthermore, if you get outright drunk, don’t become loud, obnoxious, or embarrassing at the party.  It’s time for you to “call it a night” or regret you every came.
  • After the event, party or get together, write a thank you note.  This gesture is extremely important whether the party was a social or business one.  This will truly ensure that you are considered the dream guest and foster great relationships in the future.

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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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