The DOs and DON\'Ts of Business Lunches

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The DOs and DON\'Ts of Business Lunches

10.11.2008 ob 13:53

In the business world, a business lunch is perceived as a time to continue the talks started; as time well-spent. Business lunches build relationships between business partners, and may, if properly conducted, lead to closer links or even business friendships. So let us look at the dos and don’ts you should remember when inviting your business partner to a business meal.

Business meals are an opportunity for mutual alignment of differing opinions, reaching an agreement, making a business deal. But we should know what types of behaviour create a good atmosphere, how to act in order to make both ourselves and our guests feel comfortable, what it means to be a good host.

While having a meal we can be much more relaxed and it is much easier to get to know each other than in the office or conference room in a business building. Remember that it is our gastronomic culture which reveals who we are, what we are and who we associate with!

The conditions for an invitation to a business meal are met:

          if the business talks were successful, 

          if the contract was concluded and signed,

          if the business partner (guest) comes from another town.

With all the conditions for a business lunch fulfilled, it is also important that it is attended by all the people involved in business talks or those present at the signing of the contract.

If we are not able to join in the business lunch for a legitimate reason, we may be replaced by a person who was also present at the talks. By no means should we say, "Martin from the office next door will take you to lunch in my place." At a certain stage, business partnerships do not allow for substitutes at all; a person in a certain position will invite to lunch his or her counterpart (a general manager invites a general manager and the president of the management board another president of the management board, and so on).

When going to a business lunch, forget all the rules of managing business talks, all knowledge about the seating arrangement, body positioning, where and how to sit in relation to your »opponent« or your colleague in strategic negotiations.

The place of our closest co-worker during negotiation will, at a business lunch, be taken by our business partner, client, guest. They will get an impression of how much they are appreciated from the type of venue we chose. We should not reassure ourselves that we are not to blame if the service proves to be appalling, the food tasteless or the wine too warm. It is us (along with our secretary and administrative secretary) who are responsible for all the faults in the place we took our guest to.

The choice of restaurant should (particularly if the guest comes from another region or country) correspond in quality (location, facilities, range of food and drink, service, etc.) to the importance of our business partner and our relationship to him or her. When selecting a restaurant we should also pay attention to suitable atmosphere (quiet, sober, the possibility of retiring from the noisy part of the restaurant, sometimes separate rooms are desirable too).

Regardless of our choice we should never give up our own identity, our roots, or be ashamed to admit where we come from. Let the guest see that we are aware of the culture and traditions of our nation, which also include gastronomic culture. Only in this way can we show our guest that we have respect not only for things foreign but also ours or national.

Choose a restaurant that can offer your guest also specialties from our national cuisine; surely he can have his fill of Italian, French delicacies at home and in all imaginable hotels across the globe. But be careful to keep your guests safe from any »cultural shocks«!

In the business world, as everywhere else, a growing number of people are taking care of their health, their outward appearance, people adjusting to a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet, who firmly believe in this and are also very proud of their disciplined way of life. They should not be forced to change their dietary habits on account of our excessive, aggressive and sometimes even unsettling hospitality. They will not like us the better for it! Quite the opposite! They will feel vexed for letting themselves be prevailed upon and giving up their diet regime just for the sake of peace and to humour your aggressive zeal. They will feel upset for having set aside their self-control of which they are so proud. Self-control and discipline in all things are the conditions for a successful businessman. Only people in control of themselves can likewise be in control of business, overcome problems and manage groups of people.