* Don't touch anything at the table until your host picks up his napkin or takes a sip of water.

*Never drink after a toast is made in your honor.

*Use your knife to cut salad, vegetables, meat--do not use the side of your fork.

It's not difficult to recognize these as some of the rules governing proper table manners. But they're also rules for corporate success, says Amy Mills Tunnicliffe, director of Boston-based The Proper Manner. "Business today takes place in a global setting, often over a meal," according to Tunnicliffe, whose company specializes in corporate protocol and business etiquette training. "So many careers are harmed, so many interviews are blown due to poor table manners."

Tunnicliffe's seminars on dining skills a nd business entertaining teach participants how to successfully navigate their way through a multi-course dinner, addressing everything from seating arrangements to place settings.

Tunnicliffe says she's often called in when a company has been embarrassed by its employees' public actions. "Lack of social skills, even on the smallest level, reflect poorly on the individual and the company."

The less-than-stellar performance of John Oakden's staff, for example, persuaded him to try a Tunnicliffe seminar. A senior regional manager for Canton, MAbased Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Oakden says his sales reps used to "stand around talking only to each other" at company receptions. He attributes much of their new-found social skills in mixing and "working the room" during a recent national sales meeting to what they learned from Tunnicliffe's seminar.

For more information, call (617) 740-1009.