Etiquette Tips For Dining With Your Boss

Etiquette tips for dining with your boss

Proper etiquette when socializing with your boss, clients, or co-workers can be tricky, even if you consider them friends. It is important to remember that, even if it is a fun occasion, you should always act in a professional manner as your behavior may affect the way those you work with view you and your competence. Here are a few etiquette tips on how to conduct yourself in a social setting with your boss or other work associates, be it a sit down dinner, a cocktail party, or a happy hour at a bar.


When you arrive, say hello to everyone present and introduce yourself to anyone you do not already know. Look people in the eye when you shake their hand and make sure you tell them your full name.

Keep the conversation light and professional and avoid topics that are too personal or may cause anyone discomfort. Do not dominate the conversation or interrupt others.

Make sure your phone is turned to silent. Leave the room if you must answer, make a phone call or respond to a text. If you have to leave the group, conversation, or the table for any reason do not forget to excuse yourself.


Take your lead from the host when ordering and never order the most expensive thing on the menu (meaning stay away from the lobster and that 30 year old Scotch). If you are at a sit down dinner, you should order the same number of courses as everyone else and try to avoid messy foods. If a spill happens, clean yourself off as best you can, but leave it to the staff to clean up the table, floor and surrounding area as you may end up just getting in the way or making it worse if you try to help. If you accidentally spill on someone else, apologize, but do no invade their personal space by trying to help them clean themselves off unless they ask you to do so.

Special dietary needs

If you are organizing the event, it is up to others to notify you of any food allergies, but it is your responsibility to accommodate them. With proper notice, most restaurants should have no problem preparing special dishes for those with allergies or dietary restrictions. If you are attending an event and have a food allergy or dietary restriction, make sure you let the host know when you RSVP (no less than three days before the event). If the gathering is more informal and you have an allergy or dietary restriction, do not hesitate to quietly mention it to your server, as restaurants are used to handling all sorts of requests from guests.


Pace yourself when drinking and definitely do not get sloppy drunk, even if others are. A good rule of thumb to avoid getting too intoxicated is to have one glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage you consume. If you do not feel like drinking or sense you may have had too much, there is no shame in ordering a soda.

Know which fork

For sit down dinners, it is not be enough to have basic table manners; you should have a general knowledge of business dining etiquette such as which utensils to use when, how to excuse yourself from the table, etc. You can learn these basics from various books, websites or even a training session or class.

Always be respectful to the staff, be it your server, bartender or busboy.

The bill

When the bill comes, the person who organized the event and issued the invitations should be the one to pay. If that is you but someone higher up in the company offers to pay, you may graciously accept. In that case, do not forget to write a thank you card.

Have you ever had an etiquette mishap in front of you manager? How did you handle it?


By: Claire Bertin-Lang

Levo League

Levo League is the first online destination designed to provide Gen Y women with advice, mentorship and career opportunities. Follow us on Twitter at @levoleague.