An invitation to lunch with the boss is an opportunity to make an impression. Ordering the right meal, participating in conversation and refraining from self-indulgent behavior shows the boss you are a confident, professional employee. Following a few simple etiquette rules will help you navigate the executive lunch and leave a positive impression on the boss.
Exhibiting proper table manners is basic behavior you should not overlook. Treat the restaurant staff with courtesy and respect. Don't start eating until everyone at the table has been served. If you spill something, calmly and quietly clean the spill. If you spill on someone else, don't try to clean the other person off. Instead, hand the person a napkin and let him blot the spill himself. Chew with your mouth closed, and don't talk while you have food in your mouth.
What to Order
Order something you can eat neatly with a knife and fork, such as pasta or salad. Unless the boss takes you to lunch at a diner, avoid food you have to eat with your hands, such as a hamburger and french fries. Don't order foods that are difficult to eat, like shellfish and bouillabaisse. Don't order the most expensive item on the menu. If you're not sure what to order, ask the boss what she recommends, or follow the lead of others at the table. Don't order alcohol at lunch. Drinking too much in front of the boss can be a career killer.
Focus your attention on the people having lunch with you, not on the food. Think of the occasion as a business meeting where food is being served. Participate in the conversation, but don't talk only about work, and don't talk about personal problems. Avoid hot topics such as politics, religion, money and gossip. Safe topics include the weather, popular television shows or films and sports. Don't use profanity.
Thank the Boss
Let the boss pick up the check. Thank him for lunch in person at the restaurant, and send a follow-up email or handwritten note thanking him again for inviting you to lunch. Your written message should be short and to the point. For example: "Dear Boss, Thanks again for taking me out to lunch. I enjoyed the company and the food. Regards, Susan."