Business Etiquette Rules for a Business Lunch

Meeting clients in restaurants has become a common practice. Even though manners have faded from popular consciousness, how you conduct yourself while dining has a distinct impact. Use the following guide to dining business etiquette as your roadmap for a successful nosh.

Plan the Discussion

Filling your belly is secondary to work. Know exactly what needs to be discussed ahead of your arrival. Write down the points you need to make along with relevant questions. Bring a writing utensil and tick off every item after each has been covered and take copious notes. Meaty topics are best raised amid natural lulls. After orders have been placed and during after-meal coffees are prime times for serious conversation.

Stay Professional

Although sharing a meal is an informal activity, you are always representing your organization. Chitchat comes with the territory but refrain from oversharing. Avoid details concerning divorces and your child’s behavioral issues. Abstain from offering political stances and push dirty jokes from your mind. It’s okay to reveal personal details that help your dining companions get to know you, but keep the discourse lighthearted.

Remain Sober

Although power lunches and martinis used to go together, modern society frowns upon excessively imbibing. It’s acceptable to catch a buzz while having dinner, but use restraint at lunches. You never want others to feel concerned about your tipsy return to the office. Alcohol affects your judgment, even if you do not realize its impact. Go ahead and have a beer with your steak. However, be mindful of your limits.

Focus on Others

Avoid appearing self-centered. Ask questions and listen more than talk. When conversation stalls, restart the dialogue with direct follow-up queries. If your guest mentions an accomplishment, offer congratulations. Request to see pictures of family and pets. Shift the focus onto your dining partners and they will be naturally drawn toward you.

Pay the Bill

If you called for the meeting, pick up the check. When it arrives, silently place your credit card in the tray. Companies often provide funds specifically for business outings such as these, so payment should be completed without hesitation. If your dining partners insist on splitting the bill, allow them the privilege. Save the receipt, as eating while working is tax-deductible.

Conducting business over meals involves more than merely picking the right establishment. Be mindful that happily feasting is less important than following the rules of proper business etiquette and creating a good impression.


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