Business Etiquette Blunders Quiz

By Dr. Kathleen Pagana

Jennifer was really happy with her new job and eagerly looked forward to the annual holiday party. With free drinks and great music, she really relaxed and partied hard. Several weeks later, she was disappointed when she found out that she did not get a promotion. She was shocked when she found out that her behavior at the party had gotten her the reputation of being a “loose cannon” and “party girl.” She lost her credibility as being a good representative for a company position that required a lot of travel and business meals.

Have you ever wished you knew more about business etiquette at holiday dinners, interview luncheons, and award banquets? Knowing some essential tips can help you benefit from these opportunities without worrying about eating from the wrong salad bowl or not properly introducing your guest to your boss. Test your knowledge of business etiquette with the short quiz below.


1.   A business meal is a time to relax and “let loose.”  True or false

2.   Whose name do you say first when introducing your spouse to your boss? Spouse or Boss

3.   Clothing is never neutral. It either adds or detracts from a professional image. True or false

4.. A man should wait for a woman in business to extend her hand for a handshake. True or false

5.   A drink should be held in the right hand at a cocktail party. True or false

6.   Where would you find your salad plate? To the right of the entrée plate or to the left of the entrée plate

7.   Is it appropriate to tell an associate that she has spinach in her teeth? True or False

8.   If you need to excuse yourself during a meal, you place your napkin to the left of your place setting. True or False

9.   BBQ ribs are a good meal option at a company banquet. True or False

10. Pushing back your plate signals you are finished eating. True or False


1.   A business meal is not a time to relax and “let loose”. It is a test of your social skills and your level of sophistication. Your interpersonal skills, including your treatment of the wait staff, are on display. One of the biggest blunders at the business meal is alcohol abuse. You can undo months and years of good impressions by excessive drinking. The key point to remember is that “business” should always be the number one item on the menu.

2.   The boss’s name should be said first. Proper introductions have a pecking order with the person of rank, honor, or importance being mentioned first.   The other person is being introduced or presented to the person of honor. Follow these three steps. One, say the name of the key person. Two, mention the name of the other person and say something about him or her. Three, come back to the key person and say something about him or her. Here is an example where the boss is Mike Williams and the spouse is Cindy Clark.

“Mike, I would like to introduce my wife, Cindy Clark. Cindy is an interior decorator. Mike Williams is our company president.”

Think of book-ending the introduction with the person of importance.

3.   True, clothing is never neutral. Some people disagree and say; “I don’t judge a book by its cover.” Maybe, this is true. However, people do judge you. If you are at a business holiday party, remember the key word is “business.”  Dress how you want when with your family and friends. Women should avoid wearing clothes that are too tight, too short, or too sexy.

4.   False. A man does not have to wait for a woman in business to extend her hand for a handshake. Business should be gender neutral. Many men were taught to wait for a woman to extend her hand in social settings. Note that the etiquette for handshakes varies around the world. So, if you are traveling to other countries or are meeting international clients, check the protocol for handshaking.

5.   False. Your drink should be held in your left hand so your right hand is free for handshaking. This also prevents your right hand from being cold and damp.

6.   Your salad plate is to the left of the entrée plate. An easy way to remember this is to think of the BMW car. From left to right, think Bread, Meal, Water. Bread and all food to the left of the plate are yours. Water and all drinks to the right of the plate are yours. Knowing this will help you avoid taking the wrong bread, eating the wrong salad, and drinking from the wrong water glass.

7.   Yes, please tell an associate if she has spinach in her teeth. An important part of etiquette is kindness.

8.   If you need to excuse yourself during a meal, place your napkin on your chair.

While eating, people do not want to see a dirty napkin with food stains. When the meal is complete and people are leaving the table, place the napkin to the left of the plate.

9.   BBQ ribs are not a good meal option at a company banquet. You need to keep your hands and face clean. Remember that this is not your “Last Supper”. Eat ribs on your own time and with your family and friends. The best advise for “difficult to eat” foods is to not order them at a business meal.

10. Pushing back your plate is not the signal indicating that you are finished eating. Think of your plate as a clock. Put your fork and knife in the 10 and 4 o’clock positions with the top of the utensils pointing at the number 10 and the base of the utensils at the number 4. The knife should be on the outside with its blades facing inward towards the fork.

Use these tips to help you project a professional and credible image in any business setting.   These ideas will help develop relationships without worrying about etiquette blunders you may be making.

Read other articles and learn more about Kathleen D. Pagana.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

Home      Recent Articles      Author Index      Topic Index      About Us
©2005-2017 Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc   ▪   privacy statement