On Wednesday evening, Caroline Buxton Avinger ’90 hosted the annual Etiquette Dinner in the 900 Room. Mrs. Avinger is president of Protocol, LLC, as well an president of The Buckley School of Public Speaking in Camden, South Carolina and a freelance speech writer and copy editor. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson and a master’s degree in education from Converse College, Mrs. Avinger received training and certification from The Protocol School of Washington, the nation’s only accredited business etiquette institution.
Almost ninety students attended the four-course dinner, during which Mrs. Avinger explained proper dining etiquette in a business setting. She noted that companies are increasingly incorporating meals into the workplace, such as interviews over lunch, cocktail parties, or corporate Christmas parties. Knowing the proper protocol for these occasions makes them easier to navigate.
Mrs. Avinger roamed the room answering questions while students dined on soup, salad, stuffed chicken with green beans and roasted potatoes, and chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. For those who could not attend the event, the following comprise a few of the evening’s lessons:
- Take a seat from the right. Women should not expect to be seated by men, but should not refuse if offered.
- Unfold your napkin in your lap and place the crease toward your body.
- If you must leave for any reason, simply say, “Excuse me.” Do not go into detail.
- Any business event is about the conversation, not the meal. Be sure to eat slowly.
- At a restaurant, go for a meal in the mid-range price point. Do not order appetizers unless the employer offers.
- Do not take leftovers to go unless the employer offers.
- In a family-style setting, offer to the left, pass to the right.
- If you are giving a toast, “Keep it short. Keep it simple. Sit down.”
- If you are the recipient of a toast, do not drink to yourself and do not touch your glass.
- In an interview, do not feel the need to fill the silence.
- Do your homework so that you can contribute to the conversation.
- Let the employer lead the conversation, remain professional, and do not get overly comfortable.
Thank you to Mrs. Avinger for hosting this popular event, once again. And thank you to Dining Services for providing students with a delicious meal and great service.