On Friday, October 19th, both advancement and graduate MSTM students were invited to participate in the Business Etiquette Dinner. This was probably the most unique and eagerly anticipated Business Frontier event for me as this is the first etiquette lesson that I have ever had and provided a unique opportunity for me to experience a business professional atmosphere.
As I drove to BIF, where the event was held, I made sure that 'executive professional' was the impression that oozed from my appearance, thinking of the famous quote "You never get a second chance to make the first impression." After I parked my car and spent a few moment nervously adjusting the position of my tie, I entered the BIF atrium.
The luminosity of the lights reflected on the wooden floor, creating an ambience of serenity and exclusivity that was befitting our Etiquette Dinner. I found many friends and classmates of mine, all dressed up in their suits and professional attire, waited in line to complete a brief participation form and we exchanged a few short conversations and then walked to our assigned seats.
As the event started, a lovely lady named Beth Reutter introduced herself as our guide for the night and explained the importance of etiquette and how professional etiquette differs from social etiquette. She circled the center of the hall with confidence and a commanding presence and explained that etiquette dining is not so much of feast, but instead an opportunity for networking and establishing business relations. This certainly was reflected in her presence, gestures and elocution.
The Etiquette Dinner itself consisted of four delicious courses categorized in sections such as salad, soup, main course and dessert. In each course, Beth patiently discussed the table mannerisms that we should employ and politely pointed out flaws that she spotted, moving back and forth to every table addressing our many questions. She stressed the importance of engaging in small talk and maintaining eye contact to ensure that we are engaged in the conversation.
Personally, I felt awkward at first when handling my utensils because the Etiquette Dinner focused on restricting movements and meticulous dining mannerism. Beth pointed out that professionalism is not only reflected in knowing our own space on the table, but also about adjusting our way when others may not have similar table manner. For example, during the salad section, we were supposed to pass the dressing to the person on our right, but if an individual did not know this and incidentally passed to the left, we are supposed to follow. I think this can serve as a reflection not only constricted to dining etiquette. Our leadership class in the MSTM program taught us that management of teams should induce both portion of adherence to rules and flexibility to adapt to changes.
I truly enjoyed my night at the Etiquette Dinner, not only because of the delicious meals that were served, but I also learnt about professional presentation, mannerism and dining experience. We even had a chance to make a toast! As the lucky person to be appointed as host in my dining table, I have the chance to open a toast and address the guest with sweet apple cider. While only the surface of dining etiquette may have been covered, I believe that this experience provided by MSTM has showed us the right direction toward professionalism as well as sparked our interest to learn more about professional etiquette.