The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

3 secrets of the business meal

Conducting business over a meal can be trying for some.  So, here are 3 secrets to help you navigate your way through the lunch or dinner and score a major deal on the other side.

1.  As much as I hate to tell you this, this particular meal is not about the food.  I know, it hurts, but it’s true.  Your choice in restaurant should have everything to do with the environment and service, while the quality of food should be a given.  The food is a necessary prop that helps you make your client feel special.  You should be scoping out the best table in the house, not the dessert menu.  When you order, make sure to choose something that is easy to eat. 

2.   As much as humanly possible, eliminate potential distractions.  Arrive early enough that you can chat with the restaurant manager to arrange a table away from the kitchen and bathrooms.  You don’t want to sit in a high-traffic area where bumps and “excuse me” will interrupt conversation.  If you know your client well enough, order for both of you ahead of time.  Inform your guest that lunch or dinner will be served shortly.  Also, choose a restaurant that is not a normal hangout for either of you.  It’s great to run into friends, but not while you are trying to keep your client’s attention and make the sale.

3.  Well before business would be conducted over a meal, perfect your table manners.  Don’t just brush up, perfect.  Performing well at the table leaves a huge impression on your client and co-workers and implies that you cover all your bases, that your are in control and can handle any situation.  Take a look around a restaurant the next time you dine out.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see someone with bad table manners.  Do you want your client to think that about you? If you think this doesn’t matter, you are sorely mistaken and this opinion will prove detrimental to your career. 


Bon Appetit!



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