Business Meal Etiquette (Business Dining Etiquette)

Entertaining for business involves business meal etiquette or business dining etiquette. Socializing with business associates provides work and business to be discussed in a relaxed atmosphere.

Business etiquette is important because it gives you the confidence of knowing what to do at all times. You will know how to behave and be at ease. This will be the mark of an elegant person at work.

business lunch in manhattan


Basic courtesies and professional behaviour apply to business dining etiquette. Though in a non office environment, one should always employ her best table manners, not have too much to drink, laugh too loudly, tell crude jokes, ask about your guests' personal life, be inappropriate and be overly casual, dress professionally or appropriately.

Business Meal Etiquette

Meetings Held In Restaurant

When do we employ business dining etiquette?

Occasionally, your boss might call for a meeting in a restaurant with a few of your colleagues. Especially when every one needs a little break from constant ringing of phones, the noise from the fax and photo copier machines, and there is a traditional bonding ritual over a meal.

Generally speaking, the person who organizes the meeting at the restaurant is responsible for the reservations.

That does not mean that he/she is paying for the food or drinks. Good business dining etiquette means one should not assume.

If you are the one booking the restaurant, it is good business dining etiquette to make sure that the restaurant will be quiet or private enough for business to be conducted, which is the sole purpose of the meeting.

Business Meal Etiquette

Scheduling A Restaurant Meeting With Clients

  • Select a restaurant convenient to your client's office.
  • When offering a choice of restaurant, don't ask, "Where would you like to meet?" putting him/her on the spot and letting her shoulder the responsibility. Instead give a choice of two restaurants. Of course, if he/she suggests a third restaurant, you can consider that too.

  • Make a reservation. Don't waste time.

  • Let your guest have the better seat.

  • Order food that is does not require much difficult to partake. (shelled seafoods are always a challenge).

  • Having alcohol is not a good idea however if you do have wine, limit it to one glass each.

  • Generally if you have invited the guest for lunch, you should pick up the tab.

  • Keep to the time limit of the lunch hour.

  • The host picks up the tab and the guest should not attempt to snatch the check (which is common in chinese culture). Unless it is between two coworkers, they can split the check.

  • Another elegant detail is when you are host, you could also pay for checking your guest's coat.



Business Meal Etiquette - Business Dining Etiquette

Business Dining Meetings Alternatives

business meal etiquette

Breakfast Business Meals



You may have a breakfast meeting.

This is especially good for people who love to get a cup of coffee at the start of the day.

It can be held in a cafe nearby the office, and they are between half and hour to forty minutes.

They are particularly efficient to when you need to "squeeze a meeting in" when the rest of the day's schedule is already full.

Lunch Business Meals

Alternatively, a lunch meeting in the corporate dining room is also very useful.

The head of the meeting can cater some sandwiches and tea, or a mini buffet spread. If it is more formal, menus are handed out and attendees select their choices.

Business Dining Etiquette Seating protocol:

The most important guest sits on the right of the host and the second most important, on the left.

The head of the meeting or host is responsible for the conversation and 'starting the meeting'.

He/she is also responsible for facilitating the conversation according to the business agenda throughout the meal.

Business Tea

A tea meeting is an easy substitute for a lunch or dinner business meal. Teas can be formal and elaborate too. See how formal teas are done in exclusive clubs and hotels.

Depending on country's or company's culture, it is usually expected that no meetings should be scheduled after a tea meeting. It is generally expected that everyone heads home after that.

Who picks up the tab?

The general idea is he who invited the guest, pays.

You may split the cheque if it is a dinner with co-workers.

Business Meal Etiquette

Miscellaneous Business Dining Etiquette

Business dinner invitations are rare because they impose upon people's personal life and time. To invite a client out for a business lunch is more appropriate.

If you do decide to have a business dinner, be sure that your dinner invitations are sent well in advance.

Business dinners tend to be formal, so no one should be late.


You might also be interested in:

Proper Business Card Etiquette
International Business Etiquette
Cell Phone Manners
Business Telephone Etiquette
Business Email Etiquette
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