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Napkin Etiquette at a Business Meal

Napkin etiquette at a business meal is an often overlooked aspect of good table manners.

Many people don’t think to hone this simple skill because it doesn’t come to mind until you are in the moment. From the initial seating to final table departure, it is essential to know what to do with your napkin to show etiquette savvy.
You will feel confident and polished if you use these napkin etiquette tips at your next business meal.
  1. If there’s a designated table host, place the napkin in the lap only after the host does. If there is no designated host, wait until two or three others seat themselves at the table before placing it in your lap.
  2. Do not unfold the napkin until it reaches your lap, not in mid air.
  3. Unfold a cloth dinner-size napkin in half. Place the fold of the napkin toward the waist. 
  4. Next, to use the napkin, lift only the top half to your lips. This prevents the soiled part from touching your clothing. 
  5. If you need to leave the table briefly during the meal, place the napkin in the seat of your chair. Place it on the chair seat just like it was in your lap. 
  6. At the end of the meal, just before you stand, pick up the napkin at the center of the folded area. Place it loosely folded to the left of the plate. Do not refold it. If the plate has been removed, you may place it loosely folded in front of you on the table.
  7. If there is a designated table host, wait for the host to place his or her napkin on the table at the end of the meal first. Guests always follow the lead of the host. 
  8. Napkin “never evers”: Never tuck it into your shirt collar, wipe your brow with it or blow your nose on it! 

Napkin etiquette matters. These tips are your guide to polished etiquette for a business meal. 

You may also like to read  5 Foods Not to Order at a Business Lunch and  How to Dine with Your Boss.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, speaker and trainer.  She is frequently quoted in local and national media outlets. You may contact her at 918.970.4400 or visit her website for additional information on her business etiquette services.