Dining Etiquette: 10 Things to Know About Business Lunches

dining etiquetteHot on the heels of our discussion about how not to gain weight over the summer recruiting season, we thought we’d round up some of the readers’ top tips on dining etiquette, collected from our last discussion on the topic. Ladies, what is your top tip for dining etiquette? What etiquette mistakes do you see interns and summer associates making that you wish you could correct, and what mistakes did you make? 

  1. Don’t be the odd one out. To prevent awkward situations, e.g., ending up as the only person eating an appetizer while everyone waits for you to finish so they can have their entrees, feel free to ask your colleagues if they’re planning on ordering an app or starting with a main course. If they don’t order drinks, don’t order a drink. And, although it probably goes without saying, don’t make a habit of choosing the most expensive thing on the menu.
  2. Choose wisely. This classic advice is worth sharing: Don’t order something that’s hard to eat and/or likely to be messy.
  3. Avoid appearing “high-maintenance.” When you order, don’t ask too many questions of the server (remember that waitress scene in “When Harry Met Sally“?), and don’t make a zillion modifications to your meal.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about special dietary requirements. Meaning: a few questions or exclusions are fine — a 15 minute interrogation on different menu options isn’t. Check out our posts on eating gluten-free or being the only vegetarian at a business lunch where there’s nothing you can eat for more guidance. If you need to make a game plan, consider calling the restaurant ahead of time with your questions (so that you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining your requirements and ordering your food).

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Summer Associate Series: The Ultimate Guide to Business Lunch Etiquette

business lunch etiquette tips for summer associates2017 Update: We still stand by the below roundup with business lunch etiquette tips for summer associates and interns — but here’s a link to our most recent discussion on dining etiquette and check out our Resources for Summer Associates page.

This week, in our Summer Associate Series*: what are some of the best business lunch etiquette tips that interns should know about — for business lunches, office cocktail parties, and more?  Readers already working: what are the biggest dining etiquette tips you wish interns and SAs knew? Which are the biggest blunders you see (from both the guys and the gals)? Summer associates and interns: what are your biggest areas of confusion? 

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.) Check out our previous post on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, and general business etiquette tips.

Here are some of the best dining etiquette questions we’ve covered in the past — readers, what have we missed?

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Business Lunch Tips for Newbies

business lunch etiquette

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on dining etiquette for professional women

What are your best business lunch tips for newbies? What would you say are the key rules of etiquette that women new to the corporate world need to know?

Our list of the Top 10 Things to Know About a Business Lunch” is still one of our top posts here at Corporette. I remember the day I wrote it — the blog was about a week old, and I was still figuring out content (and posting anonymously back then). Both the TPS Report and the Suit of the Week were things I added at the absolute last minute!

I had gone to a large-ish group lunch with summer associates (there were maybe 10 of us there) and while no one acted egregiously, I remembered just how hard it was for me to learn that business etiquette stuff, and how awkward it was to turn around and try to impart that knowledge to summer associates. “To the blog!” I thought.

Since then, we’ve talked a lot on Corporette about business lunches: what not to order at a business lunch, how to navigate business lunches as a summer associate, when to offer to pay and when to pick up the check if you’re dining with partnershow to handle a work lunch as the only vegetarian or as someone with a gluten-free diet, what to wear to an alumni lunch event, and what to do with those leftovers — take ’em or leave ’em?

So I’m curious, readers — what are YOUR top three business lunch tips that you wish you could teach to all the young’uns at your company or firm this summer? What other kind of tips are important from a career and professionalism standpoint that are awkward to talk about with your younger colleagues?

Pictured: Fork!, originally uploaded to Flickr by Joshua Rappeneker.

The Business Lunch, Gluten-Free

gluten-free corporateIf you have special eating needs, how do you navigate the business lunch, as well as other noshing and networking events? What are the best tips and practices for enjoying a gluten-free business lunch? Today’s guest poster, Valerie from City|Life|Eats, tackles this very issue. Valerie is an old friend to Corporette, having posted here before about makeup and a favorite shirt. Enjoy! – Kat

It can be difficult to manage dietary restrictions with the demands on being a professional woman.  Learning that certain foods are off-limits, whether because of Celiac disease, other autoimmune conditions, food allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, means a lifestyle change that takes adjustment.  When I learned I could not eat gluten, dairy, eggs and a host of other foods, I was concerned about how to manage these new restrictions, particularly with regards to my professional life.   As an associate at a law firm in Washington, DC, I was acutely aware that business entertaining was only going to be a larger part of my life moving forward, as would business travel and conferences.  It has been a couple of years now, and along the way it has gotten a lot easier. I do not hide the requirements of my restrictions, but manage them in such a way that the way I eat does not become a focal point of interacting with me either.   [Read more…]

How Not to Gain Weight Over the Summer Recruiting Season

healthy office eating

2016 Update: We still stand by the below advice — but if you’d like to check out our more recent discussion on how not to gain weight as a summer associate, you can check it out here. 

Summer is nearly upon us!  As law school, business school, and college  interns flood the workforce, calendars fill with networking lunches, team building meetings, and “get to know your coworkers” cocktail parties —  all with lots of food (and alcohol).  Reader A is particularly worried about the summer associate life in BigLaw:

I’m about to start a job as a summer associate at a Big Law firm. I’ve been told to expect daily lunches out, and been warned about the corresponding weight gain that usually happens. I’m particularly sensitive about not wanting to be the High Maintenance Associate–if I’m daily asking for “dressing on the side,” will I come off as obnoxious? Any tips for navigating the summer? Thanks.

This is a great question, because the summer can be a really difficult time for both those being recruited and those doing the recruiting.  We’ve talked about business lunch etiquette before, and we’ve also talked about trying to diet while working a corporate gig — but now let’s talk maintenance.  (Pictured:  Salad Lunch, originally uploaded to Flickr by 427.) Some tips: [Read more…]

10 Things About… Trying to Diet While Working a Corporate Gig

N.B.: I still stand by this advice on how to diet while working a corporate job (and links have been updated as of 2016), but you can also check out our 2016 discussion on how not to gain weight during the summer recruiting season

Amazingly, everyone I know right now is either trying to get their eating under control (the Fourth of July was apparently a very happy one for everyone!) or outright diet. This can seem like a nearly impossible task if you’ve got cocktail parties, catered dinners, and three-course lunches on a daily basis — especially since so many diet programs require you to cook (or at least eat specific foods that can take a ton of time to prepare). What’s a working girl to do? Here are my tips…

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