January 31, 2014 is Chinese New Year. 2014 is the year of the horse. Many of you will celebrate the Chinese New Year season with family, friends, co-workers and Chinese food. If you’re dining at a Chinese restaurant or home here or in China, here are a few pointers from etiquette expert Syndi Seid, if you are attending a business or social meal.
1. Use the time to get acquainted with everyone. Seid says business is rarely discussed.
2. Never eat or drink before the host. Always offer both to someone else before serving yourself.
3. Learn to use chopsticks. Seid says when putting them down, do not put them on top of the bowl or in the bowl. Place the chopsticks diagonally on your plate or in a chopsticks holder. Seid points out sticking your chopsticks straight up in a bowl is rude. It’s similar to joss sticks in Asian religious ceremonies.
4. Sample each dish, even if you’re unfamiliar with the food, in China or any foreign country.
5. Leaving a full bowl or plate of food also is rude. Finishing everything also may insult your host, who might think they didn’t offer enough food, even after seconds. Seid suggests when full, leave a small amount of food or drink.
6. What matters most is showing patience, modesty in speech, dress and good manners.
7. Thank your host within 48 hours with an email and highlight the positive.
For more, read “Cultural studies pay in China” in USA Today, Dec. 30, 2013.