Every culture has its own set of relatively fuzzy meal-time manners. This becoming more apparent to me recently as I have had both “hosted” and “been hosted” on my travels on “missionary tour.” As I’m getting older I’m coming to realize more and more that proper etiquette isn’t about a stuffy set of rules and behaviors; etiquette is a set of guidelines to help people treat people kindly and to facilitate relationships.
You may think this is a post complete with missionary jokes about eating in exotic places, but its not. Though I could write a little about that, this is more about how to treat people kindly over dinner. To that end I want to point you to two pod-casts from the guys at Manger-Tools. These aren’t Emily Post talks, or notes from Miss Manners. They’re practical tips on how to have be a polite host or guest over a meal. They cover things like how to seat larger groups of people, where the host should sit and how you should arrange for the paying of the bill. This is important stuff for those of us who work with people regularly. I was invited to a dinner recently where I was the only “new” person in a large group and where people wanted to hear about missionary work in Kosovo. Rather than being seated near the middle where I could interact with a broader group of people, I was seated on the end where I could only conveniently talk to three others. That’s not a big deal but I missed out on meeting some pretty neat people!
These two podcasts are distinctly oriented for the North American business world and the business dinner, but there is a lot of good information here for people who are spending their time making connections with relative strangers. Here is their introduction:
So, are you up to speed on how to have a business meal? Or even worse, HOST the meal yourself? You are? GOOD! Then you already know when to start talking business, and whether it's different at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You know how much alcohol to drink, and how many glasses of wine there are in a bottle. And the ideal way to pay for a meal, or what to do when the check comes. If you know all THAT, then we bet you also know where to seat your guests, and yourself, whether there are 2 or three of you. And, of course, what to order, and what NOT to order. Soup, you say? NO. And if you're not sure... that's why there's a Manager Tools podcast covering all that and more
If you’re in ministry and are regularly hosting or being hosted these two podcasts are great. Give them a listen.