Food offers us a comfortable state. Sharing a meal with someone creates positive bonds and good feelings. Despite the fantastic evolution of communication ways, a business lunch with a potential client, or investor, is still the most pleasant and human method to develop good relationships. To successfully benefit from a business lunch it is important to know few general etiquette matters.
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1. The invitation
If you are the person who invites is good to know that you will take the host role and this attracts some responsibilities including paying the bill. Make the invitation in a way that makes it clear that lunch is your matter. Also, don’t make it sound as something mandatory. Make it easy for the person to decline your invitation.
2. The food
Usually the host makes the first order and even makes menu recommendations. If you are the guest, take care if the host orders an appetizer or not. You should do the same as the host. It is not comfortable if one eats and the other doesn’t. Avoid ordering expensive food and try to choose easy to eat dishes. Spaghetti, pizza and fries are not suitable.
3. The conversation
Although a meal creates a nice intimacy, avoid speaking about personal finance and health topics, gossip etc. Always remember this is a business meeting. It is important not to rush in starting business talk. Wait at least until you have ordered your meals and received the first drinks.
4. The napkin etiquette
The way of using napkin creates a lot of controversy.
When you sit down place your napkin on your lap, after your host has moved his/her napkin. The napkin always remains on your lap throughout the entire meal. The controversy appears in case you need to leave the table. Usually it is recommended to put the napkin unfolded on the chair. In this way you communicate you will be returning. However, some etiquette consultants suggest putting your napkin to the left of your plate. Usually the napkin is placed to the left of the plate only when you completely finished the lunch and leave. This is why, for temporal leave, the chair solution is more common.
At upscale restaurants the napkin problem is solved very gentle by the stuff. While you are missing, they replace your used napkin with a clean one.
Remember: do not to fold the napkin. It is a used napkin.
4. The knife and fork use
Two main methods of using the fork and knife are accepted: the American way (in zig-zag) and the continental way (European).
The American style supposes that your fork is in your right hand (like a pencil) and knife in the left. When you cut the food, you switch. When you eat, switch again to have the fork in your right hand again. The Continental way means to keep the fork in the left hand and knife always in your right hand.
The way to communicate you have made a pause, or you finished the meal is different. Take a look at these illustrations to understand:
5. Bread and Butter Etiquette
Never take a bite directly from your bread roll. Break it into individual bite-sized pieces. Do not put the butter directly on your bread and never butter the whole roll. Put the butter on bread plate first.
6. Liquids and solids placement
Liquids like water, coffee, wine, stay on the right, solids like the bread stay on the left. To remember this rule you can make a trick. Put the hands in your lap. Touch the index finger of your left hand to your left thumb. Do the same with the right hand. In this way, your left hand should form a “b” and you can associate this with BREAD; your right hand should form a “d” from DRINK.
It is not indicated to drink alcohol at all. However, there is a common rule of good manners to drink a glass of wine, or maximum two. You should avoid beer because of the unexpected and unpleasant belch. For the same reason avoid any other soda.
8. Mobile phone
Turn off your phone and don’t put it on the table. It is a proof that you appreciate the conversation with your lunch partner.
If you respect these few business lunch etiquette, you will definitely make a good impression. Don’t be stressed: it is more important to keep a polite and opened attitude.
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