Back to Blog

Make the Right Impression at Business Lunches

Categories: Workplace Etiquette

BusinessLunchI read a terrific article on about business etiquette: "Fifteen Business Etiquette Rules. The tips given included many for business lunches, frequently known as “power lunches.”

One rule really stuck in my mind: Never ask for a “to-go” box or "doggy bag" (even if you DO have a dog at home).

Are you laughing? Do you think that’s the silliest excuse for a tip you’ve ever heard, and the idea that this should be included in a list of business etiquette “rules” for client meals is ludicrous?

Well, let’s take a closer look...

For starters, many things that are perfectly appropriate -- even sensible and practical -- for a family dinner or lunch with your best buddies are simply not appropriate for business. When it comes to the world of business lunches (and other meals), however, none of these activities reflect professionalism:

  • Insisting that everyone split the bill down to the last dime based on what they ate
  • Taking and making phone calls
  • Using your smart phone to take a picture of the pu-pu platter and posting it on Facebook

You say that you know that, but what’s so bad about taking home the remains of your oh-so-costly rib-eye steak -- or, the tiramisu you ordered, but couldn’t finish?

To put it simply, asking for that doggie bag just doesn’t present that polished, successful image you want to rock in a business setting -- whether that setting is the boardroom, the backroom, or the taproom.

Think about the most successful people you know. Can you imagine someone like Bill Gates asking for a doggie bag after a lunch-time business meeting with a prospective new business partner?

Can you imagine President Obama asking to box up his leftovers during a meeting with a foreign leader at one of DC's prestigious hotspots?

Can you imagine your own CEO waiting for the server to box up his (or her) leftover fries and bring them back to the massive corner, wall-to-wall-windowed office?

I’ll bet that particular business meal etiquette “rule” doesn’t seem so ridiculous now, does it?

Keep the focus on business, not on the food.

Usually, you are not paying for a business lunch or dinner -- and even if you are, and even if the meal cost a fortune, there’s no need to present yourself as cheap, unsophisticated, or  greedy.

Keep the focus on your dining companion(s), not the food, money spent or food possibly wasted.

What do you think about this “rule?”

Have you broken it?

Is it something you instinctively knew, without ever thinking about it? Do you think it’s ridiculous in this day and age? I’d love to hear your comments.

Back to Blog