Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism
Business entertainment is largely about expanding the business playing field. Meeting clients in venues outside company walls allows business to be conducted informally and in more subtle ways. For the most part, entertaining clients is about showing appreciation for past business deals with the hope of maintaining and expanding the relationship. However, as long as the intentions are made clear in advance, it is appropriate to make product announcements, present company news or engage in business discussions. “Can we discuss this over lunch?”
“A dinner lubricates business.” — Lord William Stowell
When entertaining prospects and recruits, business discussions are the norm. An entertainment venue is chosen to create an environment where the parties can get to know each other and determine if there is a mutual fit. A job applicant can decide if he would enjoy working for or with this person. On the other side of the table, the recruiter has the opportunity to look beyond the résumé. To ensure team chemistry, the recruit will need to fit into the company culture. (Note: We’re not talking about attributes like ethnicity or gender.) For example, the way a person plays golf helps reveal aspects of his character. The shine on a person’s professional image will be enhanced or tarnished depending on his conduct on a golf course.
“If there is any larceny in a man, golf will bring it out.” — Paul Gallico
“Eighteen holes of match or medal play will teach you more about your foe than will 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.” — Grantland Rice
A professional does not let his guard down, even when the entertainment is purely personal. You never know who is watching or listening. Oh, how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help noticing …” Professionals never takes a timeout from professional behavior, even in seemingly insignificant situations.
“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.” — Ronald Reagan, source: Observer, March 29 1981
Professionalism means having an attitude of respect for yourself and others — it does not mean being stiff and boring. One of the reasons for business entertainment is to have fun and be a professional simultaneously.
“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” — Herodotus (484 BC – 430 BC), The Histories of Herodotus
“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)
When entertainment and business are combined, a meal is usually part of the package.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard
What a person remembers about a business meal is a testimony to the professionalism of his fellow diners. Few people will notice or remember who used the wrong fork. But, certain errors have the potential to become indelibly etched onto their memories.
1. Talking with food in your mouth (“Close your mouth, Michael; we are not a codfish.” — Mary Poppins)
2. Coughing or sneezing across the table (“Exposing others to your germs is the ultimate discourtesy” — Peter Post)
3. Not washing your hands after using the restroom (“the single most important thing anybody can do … to safeguard themselves against unnecessary infection is washing your hands.” — Dr. Philip Tierno)
4. Double dipping and touching other people’s food (“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” — episode of Seinfeld)
5. Eating like a glutton (“Gluttony is not a secret vice.” — Orson Welles)
So, allow others to enjoy their food, your company, the ambience, and the conversation instead of tolerating your disgusting table manners.
“Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue.” — Izaak Walton (1593 – 1683), The Compleat Angler, 1653
“A smiling face is half the meal.” — Latvian Proverb
Whether you are the client or the vendor, the prospect or the company, or just along for the ride, there are three things to keep in mind about business entertainment. Certainly, enjoy yourself within the bounds of professionalism. And of course, use the opportunity to accomplish your business purposes. But, above all, be good company.
“People may not remember what you did or said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” — Attributed to Maya Angelou
“Your skills can get you in the door; your people skills are what can seal the deal.” — Source: http://www.EmilyPost.com
© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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