Gaining that Competitive Edge: Etiquette at home and abroad


"Leave a bite of food on your plate in China? Absolutely, to clean your plate would mean you did not get enough food and you're still hungry."

With the marketplace becoming ever more global, Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business is offering students its first workshop in the etiquette of countries around the world, part of the annual 'Gaining That Competitive Edge' seminar series.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 2:30 p.m., students will pick up some pointers in global savvy from Anne Marie Sabath, president and founder of At Ease Inc., a New York City and Cincinnati-based business protocol and social skills training firm. She will give other talks later in the day, including, "Professional Presence: What Does Your Attire Say About You?" at 4 p.m., and "Key Ways for Enhancing Your Professional Style" at 5:45 p.m. The seminar series will conclude with "Putting Your Best Fork Forward," at 7:30 p.m., a talk targeting table manners and the art of the business dinner.

Norm Solomon, Ph. D., dean of the Dolan School, said the Competitive Edge seminars help prepare Dolan students for undergraduate internships and their work lives after graduation. "A business student's education would not be complete these days without lessons in the social skills necessary for the global marketplace, so the talk about international etiquette will be a smart addition to the series. With multinational business connections a must these days, a skill set in the manners of other countries is vital for every business leader."

Annually, Fairfield University has an average of 450 students studying abroad in programs throughout the world that emphasize exposure to new cultures and opportunities beyond the traditional classroom.

Sabath will help students navigate through the confusing rules of international etiquette, and give them a pop quiz in world manners.

For example, do you need to leave a bite of food on your plate if you're in China? Absolutely, to clean your plate would mean you didn't get enough food and you're still hungry.

What do you do if you're in France and the restaurant doesn't give you a bread plate? Do without - it's perfectly acceptable to put bread on the tablecloth.

How do you ask for ketchup in France? You don't. It's one of the most insulting things to do to a chef. It's right up there with not tasting food before adding more condiments.

Sabath also will explain the art of greeting and meeting others, elaborate on gestures to avoid when doing business abroad, and share her three key rules for acquiring an international mindset.

At the talk on dressing for success, students will be coached in the art of wearing flattering attire according to body size. The professional style talk will include tips on e-mail and voice-mail courtesy and bad body language.

At the dinner talk, Sabath will spend the evening putting students through the paces of a formal dinner, and select some of them to role-play tricky situations.

Sabath, who has appeared on Oprah and numerous television programs, has taught business etiquette to employees of the top corporations in the country. The author of six books on etiquette, Sabath's most recent book is One Minute Manners (Broadway Books, 2007).

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 5, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 63