Things to Never Do at a Business Lunch

Mom and Dad taught us some basic etiquette rules to follow at the table: keep your mouth closed while chewing, don't talk with your mouth full and keep your elbows off the table. Although that last one may no longer be very important, the others still are, especially when it comes to what not to do at a business lunch. In addition, there are other rules to follow. They may seem to be simply a matter of common sense but given what the author has seen of late, that commodity seems to be in short supply.

1
Don't Floss Your Teeth

Mature and mid adult business women talking during lunch
Anderson Ross/Iconica/Getty Images

While there's no arguing the importance of dental hygiene, tending to it should never be done in public. If you suspect or know you have food stuck between your teeth, head to the restroom and use your oral care product of choice to remove it privately.

2
Don't Brush or Comb Your Hair

You look beautiful dahling, but if you think your do has become messy, you should never fix it at the table. Nobody wants hair in their food and when you run a comb or brush through yours, there's a good chance a stray one or two may wind up exiting your scalp.

3
Don't Blow Your Nose

Does anything more than "yuck" need to be said about this activity? And while we're on the topic, if you sneeze at the table, go to the restroom to wash your hands.

4
Don't Talk on the Phone

Thanks to modern technology, namely cell phones, we are all connected 24/7. If you get a call, go elsewhere to take it, but only if it's a good time to do so. If you and your dining companions are in the middle of discussing something important, wait for the best opportunity to leave the table.

5
Don't Continuously Text

Staring at your screen while sharing a meal is impolite. If you get a text that can be quickly answered, go ahead and do it—one time. Otherwise, wait for a chance to excuse yourself and then reply.

6
Don't Burp

In some circles, burping indicates that you have enjoyed your meal. While the cook may appreciate the good news, your fellow diners probably won't.

7
Don't Apply or Fix Makeup

In days gone by women used to say "I'm going to powder my nose" before they headed off to the restroom. Did everyone have very shiny noses back then or was it just a polite way to say they had to use the bathroom?  The rules of etiquette dictate that makeup not be applied at the table especially in the case of business meals, according to the Emily Post Institute.

8
Don't Eat Anything Other Than Finger Food With Your Fingers

Finger foods may, of course, be eaten without using a fork and knife. Many of us are baffled by which foods are considered finger foods. Is a french fry one? How about a piece of chicken? It seems the rules differ depending on where we are eating. 

9
Don't Make a Negative Comment About Someone Else's Food

There are few things as childish as making derogatory comments about what someone else is eating. It brings back memories of the elementary lunchroom when someone thought your sandwich was icky. 

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by