The Smart Way to Handle the Business Lunch


Just the prospect of a business lunch can put people on edge. Like many other business interactions it can quickly be filled with fears, and guesses or, if we are lucky, calm successes.

Ross McCammon, senior editor at Esquire magazine since 2005, recently described his individual invitation business lunch to discuss his initial editorship. His hilarious insight quickly captures the moment and tells how to make the most of it.

He said he was as flustered at the start, as most of us have been at one time or another. Everything was a big deal. What would he order? Would he forget what he wanted to say? Would he remember his name!

Well, yeah, of course he would remember his name, but the point was just how heavy those situations can become. Most of us can relate to tension buildups that just keep ballooning.

Making Sense of It

McCammon goes on to explain that more than any other situation in business, lunch involves the professional skills that we’re expected to possess but that no one ever teaches us. In fact, he says the business lunch is a metaphor for success itself.

Zeroing In On It

McCammon observes that it is a human act that involves rules, like not looking at the menu for more than 20 seconds.

It sometimes means breaking the rules to permit yourself to be real. You want the lasagna? Have the lasagna.

It sometimes becomes awkward, but how you recover is really the issue.

There’s always something at stake, position, power, money. And at some point it will end.

So make the most of it

He tells us the point is to understand the rules well enough that you don’t have to worry about screwing them up. Care about the small things, because the small things are emblematic of how you approach your career. The small things in lunch and in business are huge. McCammon’s new book, “Works Well With Others” should provide a lot more insight on how to make this come out really well.

For me his take is right on. As I read his rules and chuckled over his hesitations and worries and ultimate successes, I remembered times where I have felt myself dancing on the edge, finding my way through similar situations. The ones that went the best were the ones where I was prepared enough to be able to relax and be myself.

Along the way, one interaction can teach you how to handle the next one and make the most of it. And then the next one helps you step up again. Just keep on going – you will do just fine.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Parker Knight