Huffpost Business
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Diane Gottsman Headshot

Dining Etiquette: Are You Guilty of These Business Lunch Don'ts?

Posted: Updated:
Print
Livia Corona via Getty Images
Livia Corona via Getty Images

Don't order more than your interviewer, boss or client. Gauge your food selection according to your table mate; if they order soup and salad, it's not in your best interest to order steak and potatoes, with a side order of creamed corn. If you are the host, order comparable to your guest to make them feel comfortable about their selection.

Don't assume your server knows you are the host, and responsible for the check. When ordering, say something along the lines of, "Do you have any suggestions for my guest and myself?" Even in today's culture, some servers are still prone to bring the check to the male at the table. In business, women and men are gender neutral and it's up to the woman executive to thwart the awkward moment in advance.

Don't wait until the end of the meal to take care of the bill. Speak with the server in advance to communicate that the check must come directly to you. To avoid any confusion, arrive early, select your table and give the server your credit card, request 20 percent gratuity is included in the bill, and that they bring the closed out check directly to you at the end of the meal.

Don't ask your guest if they would like to "share." Assume everyone sitting at the table wants to eat their own meal. If someone asks for a "bite" of your entrée or dessert, serve a portion on a clean, small bread plate so that it can be enjoyed from their place setting.

Don't pretend to be a wine connoisseur. A business meal is not the time to show (off!) your extensive wine knowledge; neither is going through a postured ceremony of ordering, tasting, swirling, smelling and potentially sending it back.

Don't use the side of your knife to check your teeth. If you feel the need to poke, preen or primp, excuse yourself to the rest room and take care of your personal hygiene behind closed doors. If your table mate mentions you have something lodged in your teeth, thank them for informing you and remove the foreign object away from the table. Never use a toothpick in public.

Don't assume your cell phone is welcome at the table. Even if you have a love for Instagram and know your friends would appreciate the presentation of your entrée, fight the urge to snap a picture of your chicken pesto. Keep your technology out of sight, and turn it off or put in on vibrate during the meal. Unless it's an emergency, never take a call, or answer a text at the table.

Don't use your napkin as a tissue. Use your best judgment before suffering through lunch with a drippy nose. Chances are good that your client or colleague would rather take a rain check than to worry they may come down with whatever germ you are carrying.

Don't snap your fingers at your server to get their attention. Raising your voice, waving your hands, or snapping in the air demonstrates poor table manners. Simply raise your arm half way up in the air and gently wave a few fingers to get your servers attention. If you have been waiting an inordinate amount of time and your server is nowhere to be found, get the attention of another server and request assistance locating your server.

Don't be the first to finish your meal. Before you leave your home or office, take the time to have a small snack so you don't arrive famished and unable to concentrate on your guest or the table conversation. Clearly, nothing is more embarrassing as sitting across from a dinner guest and have your stomach growl so loud they feel the need to comment, "Oh my, is that thunder outside?"

For more business etiquette tips, visit my blog, connect with me here on the Huffington Post, follow me on Pinterest and "like" me on Facebook at Protocol School of Texas.