How do I tell someone they need to improve their table manners?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
4658 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

I don’t think that calling him out for it is the right thing to do. I would set up an etiquette course for the office, write a memo to the office about the importance of proper dining etiquette with clients and have a professional come in and give a few pointers. Doesn’t have to be long and he won’t feel singled out. 

Post # 3
Member
751 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

cbgg :  Hmm…I wonder if this is even something you can bring up professionally? Like, I’m not saying he’s not due for some improvement, but if he’s covering his mouth is it really a huge deal? If anything he’d be embarrassed and self conscious…I know I would be!

I’d be far more concerned with his character, work quality, and how he interacts with folks. Almost every man I’ve ever worked with or for has eaten how they feel comfortable and 99% of the time that means not exactly following traditional table ettiquette. As long as he’s not spitting food, or eating with his hands, or stuff like that, I’d say it might be best to leave it alone.

That’s just me, I’m sure others might disagree. But when I first read how you’d worded what you wanted to say to him I was like…”wait, is she really upset because he didn’t use his knife?” lol. Once I read further I got the picture (literally, haha). Again, for me, it would be something I’d leave alone. Unless his business has suffered as a result of his lunch habits, I’d say you don’t really have anything to worry about. 

Post # 5
Member
1365 posts
Bumble bee

lifeisbeeutiful :  +1. I’d even take that so far as adding other office etiquette that may come into play, not just dining. I think singling him out could be pretty dicey professionally unless you received a specific complaint from a client. 

Post # 6
Member
4878 posts
Honey bee

lifeisbeeutiful :  I like this idea! Then if after this he still eats like that I think you can call him out. Good Lord, I hate it when people eat like that. Ughhhhh. 

Post # 7
Member
3457 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Hmm. This might be an opportunity to use a “we” statement rather than an “I” statement. It’s a supervision tool I learned in a management seminar I took last year. Basically the statement would be similar to what you already said and get the same point across, yet take the listener off the defensive because they don’t interpret it as your opinion but rather you sharing with him something you heard elsewhere and thought he should know. You might also couch it in a “compliment sandwich,” whereby you wedge the criticism between two compliments. Also, I recommend having this conversation in person rather than over email. It might sound like:

Name, thank you so much for your engagement with the clients at lunch yesterday. Everyone said they had a great time. Listen, I want to quickly mention something I’ve been meaning to mention to you for awhile. I definitely want to share because I think it will help you professionally.  When we were at lunch the other day I noticed that some of the attendees looked a little caught off guard when they saw the way you eat. For example, there were a few times when you had brocolini hanging out of your mouth and the investors seemed to have trouble taking their eyes off you. I’ve noticed it in the past and didn’t think much of it, but since it seemed to have an impact on the guests and cause a slight distraction from the presentation, I encourage you to give some thought to things like cutting food before eating it when next we have a lunch meeting. You do so well entertaining the clients, and I want you to make the best possible impression so that you can get the full recognition for that going forward. What do you think?”

Post # 8
Member
2185 posts
Buzzing bee

I don’t see anything wrong with what you have written, OP. Especially if he is representing the company during these lunches, I’d say you have a right to bring this up since it could reflect on the company. I think the way you have this worded is just fine and it may not be bad to do a company wide something or other either.

Post # 10
Member
913 posts
Busy bee

lifeisbeeutiful :  +1 This is the only way to do this in a way that is professionally appropriate.

Especially if you are not this person’s supervisor, this is a really awkward conversation to have and is not appropriate feedback to give to a co-worker. Although I know your intentions are good, yes, I do think having a conversation with him individually about this would be out of line.

Post # 12
Member
1152 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

Overjoyed :  I think your approach would hurt the guy’s feelings and REALLY embarrass him.  Also, it’s a lie…? 

I would not single him out at all.  I don’t think his eating manners reflect poorly on the company and honestly this does not seem like such a big deal to me. 

Post # 13
Member
751 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

cbgg :  I’d normally agree with you (one on one vs office wide) but that would be for a case of like, specific business/work related items. Like, if one of my employees was using inappropriate language, we’d talk one on one. If someone was in violation of policies or regulations, one on one. 

But for something like this where–and correct me if I’m wrong–he doesn’t seem to have been talking with his mouth full, spitting, etc., it seems to be something that would be an easy office refresher. You said he was covering his mouth, which tells me he’s being conscientious. Sure, he could cut up his veggies into bite sized pieces (and obviously that would be preferred) but my thinking is: if you do it as an office wide FYI and set a precedent for how lunch manners should be, then if he continues to do it you have a little more foundation. A one time general announcement may be enough (and will not single him out even if he knows he’s guilty), and then if it continues you can say, “Name, I know we’d had a refresher course on how we expect lunch meetings and client lunches to be handled in terms of table manners. I noticed today that you’re not following those guidelines….you are such a stellar salesperson/client rep/whatever and I definitely want to make sure that you stay on point in all aspects. Is there anything I can clarify for you with the guidelines?”

Like I said, normally I would agree but this seems like it would be beneficial for everyone. I’m sure there are people who take a bite and then cover their mouth and talk a little, or who eat really fast, or chug their drink, etc. Those are all forms of “bad manners” to some folks, and other folks aren’t bothered by it. So I mean, just let everyone know what the expectations are and then if they don’t meet those expectations, you can do individual meetings to help them out with it.

As an employee I’d be mortified if my boss commented on something like this to me one on one without there being any type of expectations made clear prior to the meeting. Plus, I’d start thinking of every time I’d ever eaten in front of my boss, trying to figure out how long I’d done it before he said something, why he didn’t tell me the first time, etc. 

Post # 14
Member
4658 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

I still don’t think it’s proper to single him out. He will feel emasculated and will develop a complex about eating around you again. He will think that you’re hawk eye judging him every time he takes a bite. 

With an etiquette class he will LEARN the proper way to eat, how to use utensils and napkins, table manners etc. 2 birds with 1 stone. 

Post # 15
Member
1180 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2021 - City, State

I absolutely wouldn’t do this, you can’t have a word with someone because you don’t like their table manners, you’re not his parent.

as a side note my friend was never shown how to use a knife so doesn’t, you’ve no idea why this person doesn’t. Unless it’s absolutely impacting his job it’s jot your place 

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