BUSINESS READINESS & SOCIAL ETIQUETTE
Frequently Asked Business Questions
Do you have any tips for cell phone use at a work lunch?
Cell phones have become the proverbial right arm of many people. My three keys to cell phone use are:
(1) Unless the call is extremely important, do not answer your phone and refrain from texting. Be engaged in your business lunch.
(2) Keep it to yourself, your phone conversation, that is. If you are in an elevator on your way to your meeting, ask the person you are talking to wait a moment, then refrain from talking until you are off the elevator. If you are at a table, excuse yourself, walk away from the table, then begin your conversation.
(3) Talk softly on your cell phone. This rule is also true if you work in a cubicle or are talking in a common area. People seem to forget that when they talk other people standing around them cannot help but listen. Your conversation should not include your co-workers.
(4) Be conscious of your ring tone and volume. If your phone rings often it may give the impression that you take a lot of breaks or are not concentrating on your work. Further, ring tones can give your co-workers the wrong idea about you and how you feel about them and others. Example: Do not assign the theme of Star Wars Death Star, The Jaws movie theme music, the song “I've Got 99 Problems But a B@#$! Ain't One” etc. for your boss or wife. You are better off putting your phone on vibrate in office settings.
What foods should I avoid ordering during a business lunch or dinner?
Before going to the restaurant, go online and look at the menu. If you have questions about the menu ingredients or food preparation, call the restaurant and ask them questions prior to your lunch meeting. Avoid food that a messy or complicated to eat--e.g. lobster in a shell, spaghetti, mussels, ribs, and chicken wings. Also, steer clear of food that tends to stick in your teeth, such as spinach.
When at the table, review the menu as normal, then order. Try not to be the person who asks multiple questions at the table or shares your allergies and restrictions. This may make you appear difficult, indecisive and high maintenance.
Who picks up the check at a business lunch?
The following individuals pay in business settings:
1. Vendor/sales person
2. Boss or the most senior-level person.
3. You, if you are dining with someone who is helping you (reviewing a resume, helping you network, etc.).
Before going to lunch, make sure you have enough credit on your charge card or cash to cover a bill if your dining partners do not pick up the check.
Do you have any top tips for planning a successful business dinner?
My top tips for a successful business dinner always include:
Choose the restaurant wisely. Keep patron and restaurant music volume in mind. Make sure that you and your guest will be able to hear each other. If you have handouts, get a large table that can comfortably accommodate meeting participants and handouts, lap tops, etc.
Leave time for casual banter prior to start of the business portion of your meeting.
Remember, this is still a business meeting; have an objective and an agenda. Neither have to be printed and/or passed out, just make sure you know it as it will help you keep the meeting on track.
Steer away from alcohol as it may hinder your ability to be professional.
What should I do if I have dietary or religious restrictions?
If you have dietary or religious restrictions pre-plan! Call the restaurant ahead of your meeting and ask what is on the menu or the ingredients of dishes. Do not wait until you are at the table.
Do you have any suggestions for small talk during a dinner meeting?
Read a mainstream newspaper every day for a week before your meeting. It will help you develop topical casual conversation. Steer way from hot button topics such as religion and politics.
Prior to dinner, do a little background gathering on your fellow diners. This may assist you in developing topics of interest.
If I have a business dinner right after work, what should I wear into work that day?
A business dinner is an extension of work and should be treated as such. You may wear what you normally wear to work.
Consider bringing a clean business shirt to work and change into it before your dinner. Make sure you go to the bathroom to freshen up before you leave for your dinner -- comb your hair, touch up your make up and add deodorant.
Is it okay to hook up with an office mate after an office party, if we are not in the same reporting line?
No! It is not okay or prudent to hook up with an office mate. First and foremost, you may violate numerous office polices that cover employee relationships and fraternization. Second, hitting on or picking up a co-worker may be considered sexual harassment and open you up to a world of legal hurt. Third, if you have cleared the office policy hurdle and the relationship is mutual, just remember that if your relationship goes south you will still have to see the individual every day at work. This will create an awkward working environment, not to mention that your reputation at the office will suffer.
Is an office party a par-taaay Hey! or an opportunity for informal networking?
Any interaction with co-workers is an opportunity to network. Office parties provide a unique opportunity to mingle and interact with executives and employees from various departments. Right or wrong, your misstep at a party may create a reputation that rolls over to how you are perceived by your colleagues and company decision makers. So, in short, an office party is never a par-taaay, Hey!
How many drinks may I have at an office party?
Office parties are ripe for over drinking, often due to an open bar where liquor is free. Getting drunk at an office party is bad news that can lead to poor behavior and can damage your professional reputation. If you want a drink –only have one. Better still don’t drink.
A doggy bag is used by a restaurant customer or party guest to take home leftover food, supposedly for their dog.
The doggy bag's original purpose was to bring left over bones home to one’s dog. It has since morphed into a container filled with a restaurant patron’s uneaten food -- leftovers -- given to them after dinner is complete so that the patron may take it home and eat it later.
Business Dinner: I don't care how good the meal was or how cute the tin foil dove looks. NEVER take a doggy bag after a business lunch or dinner -- it is gauche.