Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 11:52 am | Fair 54º


John Daly: Navigating Dinner with the Boss

A friend of mine recently returned from a business trip with her husband where she met his new boss and his wife for the first time over dinner.

My friend’s husband (I’ll call him Bob) depends upon his wife (I’ll call her Jane) to give him a solid “reading” on the professionals with which he does business. In this case, Bob wanted Jane’s assessment of how she thought his relationship with the boss was going.

Here’s how it went:

Bob had invited Mr. and Mrs. Boss to dinner on Saturday evening at a five-star restaurant in their hotel. They were in town for business meetings at Bob’s corporate headquarters.

Bob and Jane arrived early and ordered a glass of wine while they waited. They dressed somewhat semi-formally, trying to present a good impression. The boss and his wife arrived 30 minutes late, which wasn’t considered an issue. Traffic was bad, and it happens to the best of us.

Mr. and Mrs. Boss were dressed on the dressy casual side, which again was fine. Better for Bob and Jane to be overdressed than under attired. They both stood as the boss entered and shook hands across the board.

When seated, drinks were ordered for the boss and his wife. At that point, they struck up a lively conversation about the city, which was home to Bob’s boss and his family. They spent some time talking about their individual backgrounds, how they had gotten to where they are currently, and generally had a warm, interactive conversation.

As dinner was ordered, and before Bob could do so, the boss ordered a bottle of wine. Jane thought it not appropriate since Bob had made it clear he would be paying for dinner, but she got the impression from the way Mr. Boss ordered that he had a different idea. She put that in the back of her mind.

While Bob and Mr. Boss had a few brief business asides, Jane and Mrs. Boss, who had hit it off quite well, continued to chitchat while Jane kept an ear out for what the two men were discussing. It appeared that Bob’s boss was confiding in him about a few minor concerns he had with another employee. This might have been a red flag for Jane, but she got the impression that Mr. Boss really trusted Bob and wanted his counsel on his experiences with the other employee. However, Bob mostly listened and only shared positive experiences about the person in question.

As dinner went on, the stories about each of the couple’s lives remained personal, warm and friendly. It felt more like friends getting to know each other rather than a business dinner.

Everyone displayed the best of dining manners, and, at the end; of course, Mr. Boss wouldn’t allow Bob to pay for dinner and picked up the check. Bob tried but Mr. Boss refused. When Bob offered to split the bill, his boss insisted. The dinner had lasted way past the anticipated obligatory 90 minutes and spread into three hours.

Bob and Jane walked the other couple to the valet and thanked them again for a lovely evening, seeing them off as they drove away.

Afterward, Bob turned to Jane and asked, “Well?” Jane smiled and replied, “Do you really need me to answer that question!” It was clear that Mr. and Mrs. Boss sincerely liked Bob and Jane. Otherwise, the dinner might have gone quite differently.

My point is that the boss and his wife are human beings who should be treated with warmth, respect and sincere social interaction. Always be respectful and considerate, yes. But don’t be afraid to be honest and share who you are with the boss.

We spend a great deal of our lives working with others. Treat them like you would like them to treat you, and all will be well.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or click here to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, is available on Amazon. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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