Breaking bread with our business associates is such a normal thing, sometimes we forget the fine points of dining while doing deals. So here’s a quick rundown of mistakes to avoid at your next business meal.
So if you’re really hungry, take a moment before the appointed hour to have a snack. That way, when you arrive at lunch or happy hour, you can fully engage with the person you’re meeting, instead of with the plate in front of you. Sometimes, I even peruse the restaurant menu online, in advance, to better focus my attention on my dining companion.
My natural preference is to jump right into the matter at hand, but over the years I’ve learned to sit back and let the other person take the lead at the beginning of a get-together. If the person across the table wants to break out the spreadsheets before we’ve even ordered, I couldn’t be happier. On the other hand, if my companion wants to tell me about their weekend or an upcoming vacation, I switch into a more relaxed gear until about halfway through our allotted time, when I’ll gently guide the conversation back to the main agenda.
And far more important than using the correct fork or picking the right wine to go with dinner is treating everyone with kindness and respect. I always take note of how someone treats the wait staff, especially when something goes wrong. Good grace in the face of an overcooked steak can tell you a lot about a person.
But no matter who pays, a sincere thank you is always appreciated.
Keeping your word and delivering on your commitments is the ultimate in good manners and will ensure a lasting positive impression after your next business lunch.