Business dealings are often discussed over a meal. Make sure it goes every time with these tips. By Sara Lyle Bow & Joshua Tan
Photo: Cathy Yeulet/123rf.com
1. Know Your Role
Be mindful of your invitee’s time and position. When inviting a superior or client you do not know well, suggest a shorter meeting for coffee or tea, says VP of Crane Digital Eliza Browning.
2. Pick a Smart Spot
The ideal place for a business lunch: someplace where you can talk without raising your voice. Also, think about the menu. If your lunch partner turns out to be vegetarian or has dietary restrictions, make sure he or she has options. Consider the National University of Singapore Society’s Bukit Timah Guild House, The Dunearn, which is open to the public. It has an air of exclusivity without being snooty. And its spring Executive Set Lunch is custom-made for business dining!
3. Shake, then Swap
When meeting someone for the first time, extend a firm handshake. If business cards are exchanged (and chances are, in Singapore, they will be exchanged), receive the other person’s card with both hands and make an effort to glance at it before putting it away respectfully.
4. Wait to Talk Shop
Keep the convo friendly – ask about weekend plans or the kids. “People like to talk about themselves, so keep the questions coming,” says Shelley Darby, a recruitment consultant. Hold off on discussing business until 10 minutes or so after placing your order. And silence your phone. In Singapore, most people leave their phones on the table yet only answer urgent matters.
5. Order with Care
Avoid ordering any food that is difficult to handle (think unpeeled prawns, fish with bones or chicken wings), advises Teo Ser Lee, Founder and Director of Protocol Academy Pte. Ltd. Alcohol at lunch can be tricky as well. While it might be bad form to drink too early in the day, alcohol may be the social lubricant required to get things going. Let your guest make the first move.
6. Cheque Out
The rule: If you’re hosting, you’re paying. Reach for the bill quickly but subtly. Keep your poker face on even if the amount seems horrifying. Need to dispute the bill? Excuse yourself politely and speak to a waiter or manager away from the table.
A version of this story first appeared in The Finder.