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How to Behave at a Formal Work's Dinner

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Nov 2016 | comments*Discuss
Work Dinner Formal Employer Employee

Formal dinners hosted by your workplace can be terrific or terrible – often without much variation in between. It seems as though the best way to make sure you have an enjoyable night is to do your preparation and stick to some key rules.

Important Preparation

You need to know if there is to be a theme for the evening and what expectations your employers will have about their employee’s behaviour.

Some industry sectors love a rowdy night out – free champagne all night positively encourages bad behaviour – whereas others companies prefer a more sedate approach, with loud or lewd behaviour causing a great embarrassment. What can make the boundary blur is that even the most uptight organisation can provide copious amounts of free alcohol. This can be a free bar or bottles of wine on the tables to go with your meal.

Think about the type of company you work for and the type of nights you have had with your colleagues – while you will not get an accurate representation of what is expected of you at a work function, you will be able to tell what behaviour is usual and acceptable. Think about what type of behaviour gets talked about in negative terms in the office on a Monday morning – if someone had too much to drink on the Friday night after work, is it considered a big deal or just the normal way to wind down after a long week?

Once you have understood what is considered acceptable, you can plan your evening accordingly.

Key Rules Of Behaviour

The key rules of behaviour for your formal work’s dinner may sound a little too uptight for your liking, but it is important to remember that, essentially, you are at work. Yes it might be a Saturday night and yes your company may be encouraging you to let your hair down, but don’t. If someone is going to get talked about on Monday morning, don’t let it be you. Save your tightest dress and drinking games for a night with your friends.

Dress Appropriately

Go for a classic suit, dress or smart casual outfit. Show a bit of character with a bright nail varnish or more fashionable shirt than you would wear for the office, but don’t get carried away.

Don’t Get Drunk

This is the most important rule – however much free booze there is, even if everyone else is hammered – just don’t get drunk.

Don’t Gossip

Again, this is really tempting if everyone else is having a good old gossip, but don’t join in. Of course, you do not want to look like the pious, judgemental bore in the corner, so don’t make it obvious you’re not gossiping, or tell others to stop.

Join In

If there is some theme to the night, such as a casino or fancy dress, make sure you join in. You don’t need to be the life and soul of the party, just make an effort.

Talk to People

Making an effort at a work’s formal dinner involves talking to people that you may not choose to talk to – if your boss’s wife is looking lost, ask her about her job, or their children. If the bloke from accounts is sitting by himself, ask if he wants a drink or get him to join your table. You will be remembered for being good company.

Don’t Be a Creep

Even though you want to make an effort and talk to people, this does not mean that you should suck up to your boss all night. There is a fine line between being good company and being a creep, so be friendly and relaxed, but don’t corner your boss to say how much you love the job, or indeed how much you hate it!

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Some great tips here, I am off to quite and important business dinner later this month representing the company I work for.Feeling a bit out of my depth so I am on the look out for tips on business etiquette at the dinner table.Came across some great posts including this one, particularly the following which covers what to do if you get yourself in a sticky situation at dinner.goo.gl/LMqYmT
Ju - 24-Nov-16 @ 8:53 PM
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