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Let’s Do Lunch: The Golden Rules of Business Lunch Etiquette

Business deals aren’t just confined to the boardroom or drinks after work. Business lunches can be an effective way to cement a deal in a more informal environment. Especially if you need somewhere neutral or away from the office.

However, to ensure your business lunch goes well you need to adhere to a few rules. In this article, we will take you through the golden rules of business lunch etiquette to make sure you don’t get caught out!

The last thing you want is to make a fool of yourself in a dining setting. Read and implement these few simple tricks for a business lunch, that will leave you feeling full and successful!

Choose a Place that is Beneficial for Everyone’s Dietary Requirements

If it is being left up to you to select the restaurant or location, it is good manners to ask if anyone has any special dietary requirements or intolerances. This is much more important nowadays where people are actively eating less meat or have allergies to gluten or nuts.

Your business lunch is going to get off to a bad start if you choose a steakhouse and your co-diners are vegans or vegetarians. By proactively asking them if they follow certain diets or have allergies it shows attention to detail and a level of care. 

It will also be incredibly awkward if you arrive at a place and they can’t eat anything off the menu. Having that little bit of foresight and prior knowledge ensures that everyone can have a decent meal. 

If you are wanting a wide range of choices, why not think about business lunch catering? This ensures that all diner’s needs are catered for and also adds an element of variety and excitement. 

Things You Can Do Before You Arrive

It is polite to try and get there a few minutes early so that you can greet your other diners promptly, at the allocated time. Ten minutes is the ideal time so that you can prepare yourself, have a look at the menu, and order a drink whilst you wait.

You can also look for the best spot in the restaurant which will be suitable for the number of people joining and ask whether you can reserve it.

This can be a last-minute opportunity to check any emails or reply to any messages and then your phone needs to be on silent and remain in your bag or pocket. It’s bad manners to be checking your phone whilst at a business lunch. 

If a dress code hasn’t been outrightly stated, assume that it is business or smart attire and dress accordingly. 

Things to Consider When Ordering Food and Drinks

When ordering your food, think of it almost like a first date scenario. There are some food items such as ribs, spicy wings, and spaghetti that are incredibly difficult to eat than others.

You could end up in quite an uncomfortable setting, with nobody wanting to tell you that you have wing sauce on your cheek! Pick a food option that is easy to eat without making an unnecessary mess.

Also, don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, this is bad manners and could be awkward when it comes to settling the check and how you are splitting the costs. 

Never complain to the waiter or waitress about the food or the slow service whilst being at a business lunch, it can make you come across as difficult and rude to be around.

Ordering alcohol at a business lunch is a bit of a grey area. If your dining partners are keen to order wine, then, by all means, have a glass. However, excessive alcohol consumption at lunch can be viewed as unprofessional. Unless they bring up the subject of alcohol, it’s best to stick to soft drinks. 

Dining Etiquette 

When talking with your diners, sit up straight in your chair and don’t slouch. If you have any bags or coats with you, put them in a cloakroom or underneath the table. Also never lean on the table with your elbows or arms as this can be misconstrued as unprofessional. 

Wait till everyone has their meals until you begin eating. It’s considered rude to begin whilst others are waiting for their food to arrive. Cut your food up carefully and slowly; don’t put too much in your mouth at any one time.

Make sure to chew with your mouth closed and never talk when there is food in your mouth. Take your time with your food and don’t eat it all at once, so you are left with an empty place whilst others are still eating. Pause and take breaks to allow the conversation to flow naturally whilst you are eating.

Often business or deals will be conducted after the meal has finished, but that isn’t always the case. Some people might suggest that business should be sorted before you begin eating, depending on the wait time.

Be flexible about when business should be discussed at any point during lunch. Yes, of course, you are there to eat but the primary focus should always be on getting the business resolution you require. 

Business Lunch Etiquette: Where Can I Find Out More?

We hope that you have found this article on business lunch etiquette informative on the actions you should take when you sit down to dine with business partners. 

It’s integral that good manners and dining etiquette are followed throughout the lunch to ensure you have a positive experience. The last thing you want is for a deal not to go through because you ordered the wrong food!

If you enjoyed this article why not check out our previous blog posts on help for small businesses or productivity?