Business dining etiquette in a post- COVID-19 world

Will business dining etiquette change even as we face a new normal?

Most of us are wondering what life would be like post a COVID-19 shaken world. We hear from experts that this time is a good time to step back, re-assess, and press on the re-set button; to commit to making better choices for how we co-exist with one another, and with nature. How businesses will change is still very much unknown. Right now, what we just know is that business-as-usual may no longer be a sensible scenario.

With the new normal comes a need to revisit ways business dining is carried out. There might also be a need to review business dining etiquette. While the principle of proper decorum remains, could business dining etiquette now include social distancing?

business dining etiquette
Will social distancing be the new norm for business dining?

Experts in the US picture a near-future scenario where people are constantly traced using an app that also detects Coronavirus symptoms. With constant tracking, containment would be easier should a person tests positive for the disease.

As unusual as this scenario is, the truth is, the world must continue to take its course. Life must go on, the economy should not stop. People must learn to adapt.

Here are potentially new ways to go about business dining in a post-COVID 19 world:

  1. The pillars of business dining etiquette will remain. Dress up appropriately, plan to arrive on time, put your phone to silent mode.
  2. Shaking hands may no longer be part of business dining etiquette. Instead of shaking hands, you may use other forms of greeting such as smiling and nodding politely. Namaste greeting ie: placing your hands at chest level, with palms together and fingers pointing up, may also be appropriate especially if it is shared with people whose beliefs are aligned with Hinduism.
  3. It may also become part of the new business dining etiquette to sit at least one metre apart.
  4. Sharing of utensils and food must be avoided.
  5. Unfortunately, you may not be able to pour others’ water. Just mind your own glass.
  6. Otherwise, the usual rules apply. Wait for your host to be seated before you take your seat. Likewise, wait for your host to start eating before you start.
  7. Try to eat some food before coming to the lunch or dinner meeting. The purpose of the business meeting is for people to be able to have a conversation over food. Business dining is not an eat-out per se.
  8. Avoid ordering the most expensive meal. This may send the signal that you are taking advantage of the person paying for the meal.
  9. Avoid ordering troublesome food. Save the crabs and lobster for another day. Easy to eat food includes chicken, fish or salad.
  10. Make the move to pay even if the host already said he or she has the check. If the host insists on paying, don’t argue.

In this unusual time, not accepting dining invitations may no longer be seen as a bad thing because people are probably very cautious and prefer not to dine together. So refusing an invitation or not giving an invitation may not be seen badly by both sides.

With or without COVID-19, an important part of business dining etiquette is to always thank the host. You may not be able to shake his or her hands, but maintain eye contact when you say thank you. It might be a good idea to write your host an email a day or two after the dinner or to send a handwritten thank-you note.

Palate Sensations Team Building believes that observing business dining etiquette is crucial to you securing a job or that big-ticket sale. Check out our Business Dining Etiquette team building. If you book by 30th June for any team building events until 30th September, we will be happy to serve free-flowing soft drinks and beers on the house. Contact us today.