In each issue of Lynchburg Business, Scott Robert and Jimmy Roux from the University of Lynchburg’s Career and Professionalism Center will answer your top etiquette questions surrounding business meals, events, trips—you name it.

Q. My boss often invites our executive team out for dinner after work. Sometimes he orders a drink—sometimes he does not. Should I follow his lead?

A. As an employee, drinking at social occasions—whether it is dinner or other work-related social gatherings—is an important question to ask. You need to have a personal policy on drinking alcohol. Here are a few guidelines to help: You should not feel any pressure to drink alcohol and there should be plenty of non-alcoholic choices at events. If you feel pressured to drink alcohol and you feel the need to respond, you can simply state, “I’m the driver this evening.” If you wish to drink because your boss ordered a drink, your consumption should be kept at a minimum.  Alcohol has a way of loosening the tongue and you do not want to say things that will cause problems for you, your boss, or reflect poorly on the office. You should follow his lead—especially if he does not order an alcoholic drink. In that case you should not either. 

Remember you are not only socializing with others at work, but you are establishing and maintaining your reputation as a professional.   

Q. When dining at a restaurant for a company-sponsored event, I am often conflicted on what to order from the menu. Do I go with what I really want… the $50 filet? Or is it more polite to stick to a certain price range?

A. It is tempting to order what you really want—especially if someone else is picking up the cost of the meal.  However, the appropriate response is to pick an item listed near the middle of the price range on the menu. If it is a restaurant you have never been to before, ask the host what they would recommend.  That will provide you a guideline of an acceptable ordering cost. If the host orders first, I would use that meal price as your guide and order something similar in cost. During these types of events, the boss will observe who is ordering the most expensive items. Remember your goal is to stand out through your professional manners.

Do you have a business etiquette questions? Send an email to shelley@lynchburgbusinessmag.com and we will have an answer for you in our next issue.