A. Unquestionably, one of the worst table manners faux pas is to chew with your mouth open. It's disgusting. I once asked a group of women: On a first date, if a man chewed with his mouth open, would he get a second date? Unanimously and quite vociferously, they responded, "No way!" It's a "deal breaker." There are lots of mistakes you can make at a dinner table and people will shrug them off such as using the wrong fork. But chew with your mouth open and people won't want to eat with you again, they may choose not to go on another date, and they may decide not to select you for that important client-facing job or to work with you. Many people aren't even aware that they're doing it. One way to see yourself as others see you is to eat a meal in front of a mirror.
Address the issue with your friend with the goal of helping her to be more successful. Approach her privately and with the utmost sincerity. "Jessica, there's something I'm going to talk to you about, and, believe me, it's not an easy subject. If the tables were turned, I hope you would clue me in. I'm concerned because you're a bright, talented person, but this habit will negatively affect your success in business. Are you aware that you chew your food with your mouth open?"
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.