by Anna Nash
We choose to organise dinners for our members not only because it’s convenient, but because we believe it is the best way to meet and get to know others. When eating a meal with somebody, consciously or not, we are able to pick up on a whole range of elements in their personality in a very short space of time.
Are they punctual?
What do they order, are they adventurous?
Do they offer a taste of their meal, are they generous?
How do they talk to the wait staff, are they polite?
What are their table manners like?
Do they ask lots of questions or mostly talk about themselves?
Are they good at bringing shier people into the conversation, or are they shy themselves?
It’s not a test with universal right or wrong answers, it’s just a way of genuinely getting to know somebody. Unlike online-dating questionnaires, members are representing themselves via actions rather than words. Also unlike online-dating questionnaires, members are taking in each other’s character traits and ranking their importance subconsciously, rather than actively putting each potential partner through a rigorous checklist that might not reflect the reality of their needs. By meeting over dinner, we allow a connection to form organically.
The length of a dinner also gives a chance for people to break through first-impressions. As much as we’d love to believe in love at first sight, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, somebody you initially find incredibly attractive turns out to be very boring; sometimes as you hear another person speak, you’re drawn in by their charisma or passion, even if it’s about something you wouldn’t have thought you were interested in.
By meeting over dinners, our members are able to gently, effectively and enjoyably get a good understanding of each new person and, at the same time, have a great meal and a great night!
Helpful Tips to Make a Good Impression
Although, as we say, there are no right or wrong ways of being yourself on a dinner, a few small comments tend to arise again and again. Hopefully, none of these mistakes would get in the way of a long-lasting relationship, but they might make your other tablemates think slightly less of you. Here are four easy ways to put your best foot forward.
1) Be on Time
Although everybody understands that sometimes traffic or life events that get in the way of punctuality, many find it impolite and off-putting if it seems like this is a habit. Looking up directions to the restaurant the night before your dinner and leaving a couple of minutes earlier than you strictly need to is a good way of making sure you’re as on time as can be reasonably expected. If something goes wrong and you know you’re running late, contacting the restaurant and asking them to pass on a message is a good way to let your tablemates know what’s going on, and to show that you can at least be organised in your disorganisation.
2) Stay Off Your Phone
Again, everybody understands that sometimes there are reasons why it’s necessary to check your phone or answer calls, but there is no reason to spend most of your dinner scrolling through social media and only half paying attention to your surroundings. If you’re expecting important calls or messages, you should just have a brief glance every so often, or have your phone sitting next to you on the table so you won’t miss your important call. If there is some reason you need to spend longer than a couple of seconds on your phone at a time, excuse yourself and finish what you’re doing outside or in the bathroom. This shows your tablemates that you respect their time and company and don’t wish your phone to be an unpleasant interruption on them.
3) Don’t Be Too Serious
Deep and meaningful personal disclosures or heated political arguments can be great once you know someone really well, but in the wrong context these kinds of conversations can be uncomfortable and create tension on what should be a pleasant evening. This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to the most basic small-talk. Bringing up things you’ve done recently, interesting topical stories, local events and TV shows, movies, books and music are some great ways to start interesting conversations that everybody can weigh in on and feel comfortable with.
4) Put in a Little Effort
Our dinners aren’t a runway; you don’t need to travel to the restaurant via Milan. That said, putting in just a little effort into being the crispest, loveliest version of yourself allows your tablemates to see you at your best and feel like you value their time and company.