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Dinner or Lunch With Your Boss: Things to Talk and Avoid


Making small talk is not rocket science but that does not mean, you can discuss everything under the sky when you are breaking bread with your employer.

Certain topics will surely raise the conversation to highbrow standards and then there are some which will leave a guaranteed bad taste.

That is the reason why a little prior training on what to speak and what not to speak helps a lot to enhance your professional reputation.

A mature individual takes a proper note of different facts that may be spoken to a boss during a casual meet and things that should be strictly avoided. Here we have made a list of a few simple facts like these.

dinner lunch with your boss

How to Interact With Your Boss at Lunch?

Lunch with your boss is never going to be a proper lunch. The lunch will be just namesake (especially for you).

Your main focus must be to maintain the right dining etiquette and also communicating with your boss professionally. Attention to detail and being pleasant will do the trick to impress your boss.

Some of the tips that you need to focus on are,

  • Let Your Boss Take the Lead
  • Stay Focused
  • Pick Appropriate Topics
  • Do not ignore food and drinks
  • Express Your Gratitude

Rules to be Followed While Dining with Your Boss:

Dinner or lunch with your boss will not be something similar to which you will be going out with friends. Your nervousness and uncomfortable feeling are very much common.

Though the whole situation will not be too professional and serious, it sure will be a little trickier for a fresher.

Here are a few top rules that you need to follow while attending dinner/lunch with your boss.

  1. Focus on your attire
  2. Should be active all the time
  3. Maintain a presence of mind
  4. Know what to talk about
  5. Matchup to the audience at food and drinks

Office lunches or dinners are a great way to build rapport with your colleagues and are an opportunity to get to know each other well, So refusing such an invitation is highly not recommended. It is best to take up such a chance to connect with others professionally. This would be a great opportunity to get to know each other well.

7 Things to Avoid Talking While Having Lunch with Your Boss:

1. Don’t Get Too Personal:

Your employer can sit down with you to eat, but that does not make him a ‘pal’. Do not bring up anything personal to discuss at the table unless your employer decides to go there.

Even if an employer stoops to your level, he is still the boss. Your behaviour should be such that it reflects his seniority. Getting too close will simply make him feel uncomfortable.

Employers or bosses may act jovial and curt but this does not mean that you neglect their seniority. You must make sure, you do not discuss any personal issue in his or your life. This will simply jeopardize your professional relationship. It is best to avoid such topics from your conversation plan.

2. Strictly Avoid Prejudiced topics:

A healthy debate is a good way to break the ice, but what topic qualifies as healthy? Within the boundaries of your corporate life, it is unhealthy to discuss your faith and political belief. You should be able to wisely classify what topics to select and what to avoid.

It is best to avoid subjects like religion and faith. Those are subjective matters, best not bring them up. You must remember that a debate on such matters never come to a fixed conclusion.

As the answer to many of the spiritual questions greatly depends on viewpoint, it is best not to raise such subjects with your boss or employer.

3. Do not tattle/blabber a colleague’s mistakes:

Goes without saying that equivocating about your colleague’s shortcomings to your superiors is an unbecoming habit. Simply put, it does not look any better if done over sharing a meal. Pointing out someone else’s pitfalls will harm his reputation but will also affect your reputation.

If you point out someone’s folly at a casual meet with your boss, he will first have a very bad image of you. Even when you are sure of what you are saying, it is best to avoid such topics.

If you complain or blabber about your colleagues, your bosses will assume that you are jealous of your colleague’s reputation. He may not even believe you completely. Keep your mouth shut in such situations.

4. Be Careful About Your Remarks:

Don’t joke about topics that one would normally broach around their friend circle. There is a limit or extent to which you can be close to your boss. Crossing that line or getting too close can simply be annoying. Jokes on girlfriends, relationships or intimacy should not be shared with your boss.

Passing remarks about a colleague or sharing gossip is something you should not certainly partake in when your employer is seated in the vicinity. It is not because it will make your boss uncomfortable.

It is because you need to maintain a relationship of respect with your boss. Speaking waywardly or crossing your limits can simply make your boss feel disrespected.

5. Do not whine:

Some employees feel it is an opportunistic time to bring up requests for favors or complaints if the boss is generous enough to take them to dine. Don’t make such opportunistic moves as this may simply snatch away the few privileges you enjoy today. Your boss does not wish to entertain your grievances and sorrows during his dinner time.

It is simply two individuals or more eating food, do not turn it into a monologue harping about your inconveniences. You will get other opportunities in your office hours to speak out your sorry state or reveal your suggestions for changes in the working of the organization. Don’t misuse dinner time with your boss for such topics.

6. Toilet humor:

You need to maintain your class when you are speaking to your boss. Some employees consider having an employer with a sense of humor entitles them to crack jokes about any topic under the sky. All bosses are not made alike.

Don’t crack the same one-liner that you would normally share with your buddies over a beer! It would be wise of you to restrict your sense of humour to people belonging to your close circles. You may make a baboon out of yourself by speaking where you shouldn’t speak.

7. Indiscretions:

As you ascend higher up the career ladder, there are greater chances of there being informal meetings and dinners with your employers and bosses. You must know to stay within your limits on such occasions. You cross your limit and lose the impression in front of the boss.

If there is dining there could be winning, and there are certainly a few at big scale corporate conferences. Watch ‘WHATEVER’ you utter in front of your employer on alcohol, and if you are past your quota, be sure not to spill or burp in front of them! If you do not know how to control yourself while drinking, a better way would be to simply go for a juice instead of a hard drink.

While there are limits to how informal you can get with your boss, it does not mean you can never be casual. There are many casual topics that you can freely discuss with your boss over lunch or dinner without any hesitation.

7 Things to Talk while Having Lunch or Dinner with your Boss:

1. Sports:

For anyone on the other side of the table you would like to pop a conversation with, this topic is as safe as it gets. Even bosses who are least interested in sports won’t get offended if you raise the topic. This fact makes sports a safe bet when you have to converse with your boss.

2. Music:

Most often, a discussion on music easily binds people. Discussing music is as refreshing and as enriching as a conversation could get. They start with their favorite songs and singers and end up sharing their collection.

A casual conversation on music can easily create a foundation for better conversations.

3. Literature:

It is not exactly your fault if your boss is old enough to be your grandfather. Old bosses love reading and literature or books are a great topic for discussion with such bosses. You can speak about your choice of books or what kind of writing style is good.

The only harm in such a case is you may get to hear your boss’ tips on how to advance language prowess or best books to include in your bookshelf.

4. Office history:

Most bosses have toiled hard to achieve success and reach the position they presently hold. Their years of experience in the office have helped them witness bad and good times with the organization. It is thus a great idea to speak about it.

Moreover, it is not unusual to discuss the foundations of the firm you signed a contract with and taking interest in your company can only show your boss how dedicated and keen you are about the brand. It will impress him and also help him speak out his own experience with the firm. These experiences may be motivational and truly helpful in the future.

5. Assignments:

You must remember that bosses are usually workaholics. They enjoy speaking about work even while dining with you.

Although it’s a bit redundant to discuss work off the table and at the table as well, it would never hurt to discuss more your work. It will help your boss speak out some of his anxieties and de-stress him.

6. Food:

If nothing else strikes you, discuss food choices. Discuss whatever is keeping your mouth busy, the food on the table. You may reveal what you like best in food or the different restaurants you have visited that offer value for money.

Your boss may share his views and if you are lucky, you may just get a few restaurants to add to your list.

7. Hobbies:

Not all bosses are foodies. Another great option would be to discuss hobbies. Be it fast cars, or that expensive leather jacket you bought, or that painting you have been working on, discussing hobbies with your boss can lead to the establishment of an informal rapport.

11 Surprising Things Your Boss Wishes You’d Talk About:

When you are going out for dining with your boss, it will not be a formal meeting. Instead, it will be a casual meet where you will be discussing many things which can include your matters too.

Though as an employee you might be hesitant to speak in front of your boss, there are a few things which your boss would like you to talk about. Employers like the employees who can communicate well, be it any feedback or suggestion or any new innovative idea.

Here are a few things which your boss would love to hear from you

  1. Things You enjoy doing
  2. Things You Find Boring
  3. About your Knowledge Gaps
  4. Few ideas regarding Automation
  5. Issues With colleagues
  6. Feedback and Goals
  7. New innovative methods to implement
  8. When You’re Taking Time Off
  9. How your life has been influenced by the company
  10. Career Progression
  11. What Isn’t Working