Doing Lunch with Menlo College Trustee Lee McEnany Caraher

Doing Lunch with Menlo College Trustee Lee McEnany Caraher

The familiar idiom, don’t bite off more than you can chew is a warning about taking on a task that is way too big, and it was a literal command to students who were brave enough to attend the Menlo Connect Day etiquette luncheon. Menlo trustee Lee McEnany Caraher led an instructional session on the dos and don’ts for a business luncheon that would have most guests yearning for a bag of fast food.

Can you unfold it? Why isn’t anyone eating bread? Close up your butter packet! Don’t slurp your soup! These orders were just the tip of the iceberg for students who had come to learn how to impress possible employers.

Caraher is the founder and CEO of Double Forte, a public relations and digital marketing firm. Prior to starting Double Forte, she served as president and founder of Red Whistle Communications and EVP at Weber Shandwick. She is the author of Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work.

Caraher noticed after years of working with hundreds of employees and clients that interviews can flop because the candidates “don’t have it put together.” Employers want to bring in new blood, but many candidates don’t know simple rules about social etiquette.

To fix the dilemma, she created EverythingSpeaks, a desktop guide to manners that matter in the workplace. “I realized that people get in their own way at work simply because they don’t know how to put their best foot forward.”

When Caraher became a trustee at Menlo College, she knew she could help students prior to beginning the interview process with a dress rehearsal on the rules of dining.

At the etiquette luncheon, she found plenty to critique as she judged students’ personal presentation skills in eating and dressing.

A few standouts included:

On eating~

  • Fold your napkin in a triangle and place it on your lap before eating.
  • A roll of bread is meant to be torn, not cut. Take just one at a time.
  • Remove the pat of butter from the packet and put it on the butter plate.
  • Don’t slurp soup and knock the bowl with your spoon.
  • Spoon soup away from yourself.
  • Silence your phone and put it away (and not on the table!).
  • After you have finished eating, put your fork and knife at the 4:00 position on your plate. Don’t put used silverware on the table.
  • Don’t push your plate away from you at the end of the meal.

 On dressing~

  • Women, limit heel size to 2.5” and no higher
  • Guys, if you can see skin on your legs when you sit, your socks are too short.
  • Both genders, keep your earring posts small and discreet.
  • Don’t wear white socks.
  • Don’t wear a shirt untucked, unless it is made to be untucked.
  • Man buns aren’t appropriate for most professions.

And as for the things to do, be professional and be engaged.

Thank you to our lunch sponsor, Enterprise Holdings Foundation.