Hired 101 >> Browse Articles >> Workplace Issues


Make or Break Your Career Over Lunch

Make or Break Your Career Over Lunch

Steve Berman | MonsterCollege

May 18, 2010

Table Manners

Just because you scoop up rice with your hands at home doesn’t mean you should do it at lunch with your coworkers. The same courtesy goes for your treatment of restaurant employees — even if the service isn’t top notch. Tip generously when appropriate.

Also, even though you spend a lot of time together and maybe even socialize outside of work, it’s best to keep conversations civil and clean. Keep the profanity to a minimum. If you have to tell a risqué story, save it for a time when you’re off the clock. And even if everyone else is drinking alcohol, it’s always best to refrain if you’re going back to the office. All it takes is one manager to get upset and your job could be in jeopardy.

Don’t Gossip

As much as we’d like to know as much about our coworkers as TMZ does about celebrities, nothing good can come from workplace gossip — even over lunch.

Know a juicy secret that would leave everyone at the table shocked? Keep it to yourself. If you divulge sensitive info on your coworkers, possible firings, or anything confidential you’ve been told by a superior, you’re putting your reputation — and your job — at risk.

If one or more of your lunch buddies engages in regular gossip fests, be careful. Even if you don’t take part in the conversation, hanging around serial hangers of dirty laundry can render you guilty by association. It’s better to spend your lunch hour alone than with people who could compromise your reputation.

Use Lunch to Your Advantage

While there are plenty of things to watch out for during your lunch hour, eating lunch with coworkers can be a boost to your career aspirations if done the right way. If you’re invited by a superior or potential mentor to share a meal together, use the experience as a way to glean useful information and prove that you’re a smart worker with a great personality.

Ask questions about their experiences and be complimentary. Skill is a part of working your way up the corporate ladder, but people hire those who they’re comfortable with. Sharing a meal and some good conversation can go a long way towards earning some points.

Like all workplace functions, such as office parties and corporate retreats, you’ve got to remember that while you’re at lunch with coworkers you’re still at work. By minding your manners and behaving in a professional manner, lunchtime can be more than a mid-day break — it could be the break you need to push your career to the next level.

How Outgoing Are You?

Related Reads: