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Conscientious Business Dining

Recently, all of the interns were asked to prepare mid-point reports, and to discuss the progress each of us has made in our respective fields, specifically, for our long-term projects. It was held during our regular lunch hour, so it was followed by a formal meal, where we discussed the right ways to present ourselves, and how to maintain conscientiousness.

Most people question the importance of understanding and practicing fine dining etiquette. The purpose of business dining is to preserve the courtesies of those you dine with. In other words, the primary goal should be to make those around you comfortable. Business meals are an underrepresented opportunity to connect with others while conducting business, and are a very common practice in most industries.

Using an example may illustrate the importance of dining etiquette, and how it can make a difference in someone’s impression. If someone is hired by a company to seek out customers, the salesperson could use a lunch or dinner meeting to speak with a client, and ultimately convince them to purchase from their company. If you find yourself in a meeting like this, would you prefer to come across as professional and as a true representation of your company? Or, would you rather make a bad impression that reflects negatively on both your personal reputation and that of your company?

There are some general rules to abide by whenever you’re dining with coworkers, and especially if it is considered a business meal. Make sure to never order any food that is messy, including finger foods, because it’s very difficult to stay composed and courteous if you do. Make sure that, if you drink alcohol, you do so legally and responsibly, as drinking too much could cause irreparable damage to your reputation. Be aware of who else may be drinking alcohol as well, because you shouldn’t be drinking at a lunch event when no one else is, compared to an evening event. Keep an open mind when eating with people of different international customs, because their mannerisms may vary significantly compared to what you are used to.

And it goes on. It isn’t my goal to make a list of all of the do’s and don’ts of business dining. I’m emphasizing the importance of maintaining civility when you are dining with those you share a business relationship with. By learning and understanding what etiquette is appropriate you can maintain courtesy and keep everyone comfortable.