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Business Seating Arrangements

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 30 Apr 2015 | comments*Discuss
Business Seating Arrangements

Business seating arrangements inevitably have a sense of etiquette attached to them. However, understanding the dynamics of business meetings means that with carefully planned business seating arrangements, you can actually cleverly manipulate the meeting in the direction of your desired outcome.

Things To Consider

When looking at making seating arrangements for a business gathering of one sort or another, there are some useful tips to follow and questions you should consider first. The number of people attending and whether the meeting is formal or informal will often dictate the style of table and the way in which you seat your guests. Other things to consider include whether there will be a leader at the meeting and if it’s only really going to be that person who will be doing the majority of the talking or whether you’re looking for more involvement and interaction between all of those who are present at the meeting. In that case, for example, a round table is much more appropriate. Other things you might wish to think about when it comes to seating certain people is if you have a special guest or new business contacts you’re trying to impress or if you think certain issues that are going to be discussed are likely to cause conflict between certain people who are going to be attending.

Business Dinners And Guests

If you’re hosting a lunch or dinner party and you have an honoured guest, that person should be situated to your right. If you have more than one honoured guest then the second highest ranked guest is situated to your left. A third honoured guest would then be seated to the right of your highest ranked guest on your right and so forth. Notice the term ‘ranked’ here. Business etiquette dictates that it’s rank and not gender that determines seating arrangements for business lunches and dinners.

Using Round Tables

Round tables are far better if you’re looking to troubleshoot a problem or for encouraging all attendees to have input as the nature of a round table doesn’t imply any form of leader or ‘head’ in terms of its importance so it is far more conducive to these types of meetings. If you’re hosting such a meeting and you have a deputy or special guest, they should be seated to your right.

Using Rectangular Tables

Sitting at the head of a rectangular table implies a position of power so if you want to avoid giving that impression, sit at the side of a rectangular table which will give you more of an impression of being open to negotiations and interaction.

One-To-One Meetings

If you inviting somebody into your office for a one-to-one meeting, it is always expected that you invite them to sit down first by directing them to where you want them to sit. It also displays more openness if you are standing up and invite them to sit down first before sitting down yourself although in some situations – a disciplinary matter, for example –sometimes the fact that you are already sitting down when the person enters the room can be seen to add more gravitas to the situation. Depending on how formal you want this type of meeting to be, some people prefer to have both their own chair and the chair of the person they’ve invited into the office more or less on the same side of the table or desk so that it doesn’t create a barrier between them. This is an extremely good way of putting people at their ease.

Where You Expect Conflict

If you are chairing a meeting of a group of people where you expect there may be two or three people who are all opposed to something you need to discuss, a good way of diffusing the situation somewhat is to seat them all on the same side of the table but a few spaces away from each other. This is because it will prevent eye contact between them being established which is often used to instigate a hostile debate instead of a fair discussion of a particular issue.

Maintaining Interest

Obviously, if you’re chairing a meeting, it is always a good idea to seat yourself in the middle of the table, an equal distance from each attendee because if you’re seated at the far end of the table, it’s much more likely you’ll lose the interest of those situated at the other end of the table.

Good etiquette is of paramount importance when it comes to seating arrangements in business. Done incorrectly, it can not only have the opposite effect to that you desire but you can seriously put people’s noses out of joint too. It’s also important to remember that business seating arrangements can differ depending on the countries and cultures you’re travelling to so it’s always important to familiarise yourself with the etiquette and business customs of the country you’re travelling to in order that you maintain good business relations.

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pls, what is etiquette in the church
excellent - 30-Apr-15 @ 3:05 PM
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