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

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 107
2342 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

cbgg :  Well maybe your HR department does but certainly not in any of the places I’ve worked. 

It sounds like you don’t give a damn so unsure why you ever asked the question 

Post # 108
7852 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

This just reminded me of a time when my supervisor had to talk to me about my outfit. I was wearing a blue dress that was technically made of denim (though didn’t look like a jean dress…more like blue cottony appearance), and my company has a strict no denim policy. Never even occurred to me that my dress would be in violation of that policy but whatevz.

At the end of a meeting with me about something unrelated, my supervisor casually mentioned, “oh, and that’s a lovely dress, but just a heads-up that it’s technically in violation of the dress code because it’s made of denim. I am only telling you this because once I wore a denim shirt and HR gave me a demerit for it!”

Now I have no idea if the story about her wearing a denim shirt and gettng a “demerit” from HR is true, but I appreciated her saying that nonetheless. It made the situation less awkward. and I didnt resent her at all for telling me…I actually appreciated it.

So if you do talk to your employee about his eating habits, you could also invent a tale about how you used to have no idea about proper etiquette for business meals either, but you had to go through a session on it in your training yadda yadda yadda and here are are a few tips you picked up that have really helped you professionally…

Post # 110
4878 posts
Honey bee

cbgg :  It does seem passive aggressive and personally I do like direct, but I would worry that the employee might feel singled out and could go to HR. In fact maybe talk to HR first to see what the rules are. There are so many rules and what ifs. What if he has some sort of health problem with his mouth (I know, I know but you never know). 

Post # 111
11777 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

cbgg :  ugh, well I hate having to give feedback like this, so my heart goes out to you. I recently had to give tough feedback to someone who works for me and omg. I hate hurting people’s feelings.

But as several bees have pointed out, I found the best way was quick, to the point, no softening, make sure it’s clear that it’s not to happen again, followed by a comment re something they are doing well.

luckily for you, you’ve realized this isn’t going to be an issue in the near future:-) 

Post # 113
7852 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Also, agree with PP’s, HR is not going to give a flying fuck about this. Unless you are verbally abusive and say something like YOU GROSS PIG I ALMOST PUKED WATCHING YOU EAT YOUR BROCCOLI WHY ARE YOU SO DISGUSTING it will be fine. HR has bigger fish to fry than reprimanding a manager for tactfully giving her direct report a few etiquette tips that will help him and the business in general with client relations.

Post # 117
245 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

How he chews, unless food is literally falling from his face, is not a direct reflection of your company. New hires aren’t going to think ‘ holy crap, I can get away with anything here because this guy doesn’t use a knife to cut his food into smaller bites.’ 

Needless to say, I think you’d be overstepping to mention it. 

Post # 118
895 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I still think there’s better ways to go about it.

Post # 119
1564 posts
Bumble bee

srancho :  GREAT approach/wording!

OP, you should absolutely discuss, and srancho’s approach is excellent. This DOES need to be addressed because his table manners WILL affect the company negatively. Customers have choices, and seeing a person who represents your company eating like that will leave a negative impression. People do not do business with companies they feel negative about.

To everyone who is saying “oh no! you should not say anything! You’re overstepping! You’ll embarrass him! it’s not your place!”    What would you respond if instead of extremely poor table manners, this guy was scratching his balls frequently during a business meeting? Or belching? Or slurping loudly? 

Post # 120
6397 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

I’m going to diverge from the majority opinion here. I’ve worked in large, international corporations, and knowing the basics of proper etiquette was essential. For example, most people from Europe (I will never say all, as humans are diverse and varied from all parts of the globe) eat much more with a fork and knife than Americans do. Indeed, I dined with many clients from the Netherlands who ate french fries with a fork. A person who is observant will pick this up and do likewise almost immediately, but there are always those who don’t notice or don’t seem to care. It DOES matter, as these same clients will laugh later amongst themselves. It is a definite disadvantage when clients watch someone for the gaffes they make instead of paying attention to what they have to say.

If this sort of thing might affect the employee in question, it would behoove him to know that his table manner are lacking. I definitely do not envy you the position of having to tell him so, but it reflects on him and on the company if you do not. I commend you for being willing to tackle a difficult subject with an employee.

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