Business dining etiquette is similar to normal dining etiquette, with a few exceptions. However, these exceptions can make a difference between a successful business dining experience and one that was not as successful.
Some of the exceptions include ordering, drinking alcoholic beverages, and offering to pay, although there are others.
Ordering food: In business dining etiquette, it is not unusual; for the host; that is, the one who extended the invitation to or arranged a business meal, to choose one or more menu items for those dining to choose from. Some hosts may even order for every member of the party. If the menu selections are left up to each person attending the business meal (which can be either a business luncheon or business dinner), the persons dining with the host should follow the host’s lead as to from which price range he orders. This can eliminate embarrassing situations such as ordering too pricey an item, or ordering an item that is too cheap. Both may cast a negative light on one’s use of business dining etiquette.
- Ordering an expensive meal may inhibit the dining and business setting, especially if the host is on a limited expense account or is paying the bill with personal funds.
- On the other hand, ordering a meal from the cheapest items can be interpreted, often wrongly, as trying to impress the host with how well someone can manage or save money. That is something best left for an interview, not a dining and business affair.
Drinking alcohol is often a part of a business luncheon or business dinner. Here, too business dining etiquette is very important. Those attending the luncheon will want to follow the host’s lead. If the host orders an alcoholic beverage, then those also dining will know from that that it is acceptable to also order a drink. However, if the host does not order, others should refrain from mixing alcohol with dining and business.
- If drinks are ordered, those dining should severely limit their alcohol intake. This can be especially true during a business luncheon, where returning to work may be necessary afterward. Business dining etiquette encourages any alcoholic beverage ordered being consumed slowly, preferably all through the meal.
- Paying for the meal: The rule of thumb is usually he who invites pays. However, frequently, others do offer to pay for a business dinner. This is acceptable, providing it is done discreetly, in a dignified manner. In keeping with business dining etiquette, offering to pay for all or part of a meal should never be done if there is any possibility the host will be offended.