Tips for Dining with Your Boss

Going out to dinner with the boss? Dinners should be fun and enjoyable, but somehow your boss can have a way of making you nervous and tongue-tied. Here are some tips to help you make it through and do it right.

Look Good

“Dress to impress” is never more important than when out to dinner with your boss. Make sure you dress appropriately for the atmosphere of the restaurant you’re going to, and even then, dress up a little bit more. Wear your nicest clothes, shine your shoes, and do whatever you can to avoid looking like you just came from a long day at the office (even if you did).
Arrive Early

You know you should never be late for work, and you certainly should never be late for a business dinner. It’s not always enough to arrive on time, either. Get there early – even earlier than your boss. Your boss may go early, too, and you definitely don’t want to make him wait for you, even for a minute or so. Arrive about 15-20 minutes early to be on the safe side, and wait at the entrance or at the bar- never at the table.
Prepare for an Exit

Hopefully you’ll enjoy your dinner and not be rushing for the door, but it’s a good idea to plan an exit strategy. Let your boss know ahead of time that you have an obligation afterward. This way you can get out if things aren’t going too well, and you also won’t risk overstaying your welcome.
Know Your Etiquette

Hopefully you know some basic table manners. You want your boss to be impressed with your knowledge of fine dining, or at least not be put off by your casual or naïve style. Learn basics like which fork to use, where your bread plate is, and where to place your napkin and silverware. Be on your best behavior, and remember the things your mother always told you, like keep your elbows off the table, and no talking with your mouth full.
Keep the Conversation Light

It’s not a good time to discuss heated topics like politics or religion. You shouldn’t bring up negative office topics like difficulties with coworkers, gossip, impending deadlines, or finances, so don’t comment on them unless your boss brings them up first, and even then think carefully before you answer. Start the conversation with casual office talk until you’re more comfortable. But look for casual similarities to discuss, like sports, family, and books.
Be Positive

The dinner is a chance to impress your boss and let him get to know you better. It’s a great time to show off your good qualities and good personality, so be eager to seize the opportunity. Think positively, and be positive at dinner, too. You want to convince your boss that you’re a good person who he can talk to and who he wants to have on his side.
Be Wary of Alcohol

Don’t order an alcoholic beverage unless your boss does or insists. If you do drink, limit yourself to one or two. Overdoing it on the booze could easily become your worst mistake.


Valerie Burton is a marketing pro and blogger who has tons of experience surviving business dinners with the boss. She loves to write and blog about anything from marketing strategy to today's top entrepreneurs.

Photo Credit: Cardiff Business School