What’s the first thing to do when you’re invited by your boss to dine out? Accept! Breaking bread with the chief offers a golden opportunity to prove that you can mix with the bigwigs with ease and flair. If your social skills pass muster, the dinner could lead to a much-needed raise or a coveted promotion. These four etiquette tips will help you mind your manners so you don’t wind up with egg on your face.
1. The Pre-Dinner Ritual
Dining out with your boss isn’t really about food. It’s your chance to show that you know how to act properly in social occasions. Arrive early to the restaurant, put your cell phone on silent mode, and come prepared to engage in light conversation. It’s okay to order a drink if your boss urges it, but do your darndest to avoid downing more than one.
2. Ordering the Meal
A well-mannered boss will order first, which gives you the chance to follow his lead with your own menu choice. Selecting a slightly less expensive meal demonstrates your good taste. Stick to easy-to-eat items that won’t get stuck in your teeth, and don’t begin eating until your boss takes the first bite. Eat slowly and keep your eye on your host so that you finish the meal at the same time.
3. Table Talk
Don’t assume it’s acceptable to talk business at the table just because you’re dining with your boss. Establishing a personal connection is more likely to pay off than showboating your business acumen. Ask open-ended questions about innocuous subjects like travel or family, and listen to responses without interrupting.
4. Exit Gracefully
Place your napkin on the table when your boss does to indicate you’re finished eating. As the host, your boss should pay for the dinner, so don’t offer to foot the bill. Demonstrate your good manners by showing courtesy to the servers. Express your appreciation to your boss without gushing, and follow up with a formal thank you note.