UnderCover Waitress: Business Lunch Etiquette

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Business Lunch Etiquette

This is an old, relatively preachy article of mine about business lunch etiquette. It's kind of stiff, but still gives the business lunch crowd some pretty decent advice. Of course, my favorite is the "Waiter Rule."


Business people socialize, network, and discuss work after hours on a regular basis. It is important for colleagues to be welcomed by each other into non-work environments in order to keep up with the latest news at work. People brainstorm ideas over lunch, make deals over drinks after work, and accept business associates into their social and after-hours lives.

People who break rules of etiquette will not be included in future networking events. Bad manners and rude behavior indirectly damage a person's ability to network, get ahead, and make more money. Some people never understand why others always get chosen for promotion instead. Sometimes the reason is as elusive as a rude tone used to berate a waiter or waitress.

The Waiter Rule

The Waiter Rule is simple. It says that how a person treats the waiter or waitress shows his true colors, his value system and who he really is inside.

During a friendly lunch with a manager, an employee is going to be on best behavior. The way he treats the manager is no indication of who he really is. When he is rude to the waiter, it shows that he is quite willing to be rude and condescending to people with less status or who are in service positions.

An employee who is polite to the waiter or waitress shows that he values common courtesy and will treat those working under him well. He is more likely to get a promotion than his rude colleague. Better to treat restaurant servers with respect.

Business Lunch Etiquette

  • When dining with co-workers and business associates, basic table manners and rules of restaurant etiquette apply. In addition, there are other considerations to remember when networking.
  • Even though it is lunchtime, recognize that it is still a work environment. Do not say things at lunch that would not be said in the office, because they may be repeated in the office.
  • Do not gossip about absent colleagues.
  • Do not berate the boss or the business. Have some respect, and if there is nothing nice to say, say nothing. 
  • Continue to take work seriously.
  • Sometimes there is a fine line between appearing so stiff-necked you can't have any fun, and getting drunk and being a fool. Giving others either impression will result in being un-included in the future.
  • Never be the only person drinking. If everybody is drinking at lunch, have one and nurse it slowly, or order something non-alcoholic. At lunch, it is easy to say with a laugh and a smile, "I can't, I have to go back to work!" 

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