Having flunked lunch on more than one occasion, I think that there is never such a thing a casual lunch with the boss.Â Of course, that would also depend on the boss.Â If your immediate supervisor says, “hey smeadlap, let’s go grab a dog;” it might be just that, going to grab a hotdog.Â
But…Â I was invited to a lunch with the company chairman, the president, and the VP International many, many moons ago.Â It wasn’t lunch, it was an interrogation.Â Â They sat on the other side of the small, conference table.Â The International Sales Director sat on my side, but well, well out of the impact area that we.Â I had no lunch, I was too busy answering questions.Â Boy that was ugly.
- No alcohol
- No messy sauces
- No noodles to slurp (unless you all go to a japanese noodle house – hint, order the chicken katsu – no noodles)
- Not the most expensive meal
- No rabbit food
- Be nice, be nice to the hired help (waitstaff and everyone else that is)
- No Cellphones, no distractions (turn everything off – don’t put it on vibe, don’t put it on mute, don’t turn it on at all)
Otherwise, enjoy the article.
What Not to Do at a Business Lunch
You’ve finally scheduled a meeting with that manager you want to impress, and she asks if you can have your discussion over lunch. Sounds simple, right? All you have to do is mind your manners — no elbows on the table, sit up straight, avoid talking with your mouth full — and it’s like a normal business meeting.
Well, not exactly. Business lunches can provide a great opportunity to forge a strong relationship with a work contact or make a positive impression on a hiring manager. The more casual surroundings help everyone involved relax and get to know each other better. But business lunches also are full of potential potholes that can trip you up.
Certainly, it’s paramount to follow the rules of etiquette. But there’s more to it than placing the napkin in your lap and knowing which water glass is yours. Make sure you avoid these mistakes while breaking bread with business contacts:
Don’t rush — or be rushed
Schedule more time than you think you’ll need for lunch. You never know when you’re going to encounter slow service or a wait to be seated. Your dining companions might also want to make it a leisurely lunch, and it’s best to let them set the pace. If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere else, they’ll notice. Scheduling plenty of time is especially important if you’re currently employed and meeting a prospective new employer for a job interview. After all, you want to have enough time to convince the hiring manager you’re the right person for the open position without constantly worrying about getting back to the office.
Don’t be extravagant
Make sure you don’t order the most expensive item on the menu. It can give the wrong impression, especially if you’re not paying. But don’t order a small salad, either, or it might seem like you’re too nervous to eat. Look for something in the middle of the menu’s price range.
Don’t order the spaghetti — or the spinach
You simply can’t make the best impression while you’re slurping noodles and leaving a trail of sauce on your chin. The same goes for getting leafy greens stuck in your teeth. Order something simple like grilled chicken or a rice dish. If possible, make it something you’ve had before, so you know the food won’t disagree with you.
Don’t dis the server
If you’re rude to wait staff, who’s to say you won’t be impatient and unkind to co-workers, too? That’s the impression your dining companions will get if you talk down to the server. Be gracious and polite, even if something goes wrong. If you can shrug and laugh it off when the server spills your coffee, you’ve shown that you can roll with the punches, something that goes a long way with most managers and employers.
Don’t get distracted
Turn off your phone before you enter the restaurant. At the very least, put it on vibrate and stash it in your pocket or purse. Never put it on the table, and by all means, don’t answer it, especially if you’re in the middle of a job interview. It’s disrespectful. Moreover, it’s a waste of time. You have the undivided attention of people who could be important to your career, and you don’t want to jeopardize that for something that can wait until after lunch.
One last piece of advice: Avoid the alcohol. Enjoying a drink isn’t always appropriate at a lunch meeting, and you can seriously harm your reputation if you overindulge. Stick to water, soda or something similar to ensure you make an impression for the right reasons.
Displaying good manners and behaving courteously at a business lunch can reap great rewards for your career, whether you’re dining with a potential employer, your manager or a client. But don’t forget to also relax and enjoy yourself. When you’re comfortable and upbeat, you put your dining companions at ease, and that can go a long way toward building a positive connection.
Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.
Copyright 2010 Robert Half InternationalÂ All rights reserved