10 Things You Don’t Want To Say When Having Dinner At Your Boss’s House


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According to Wendy Komac, a workplace expert and author of I Work with Crabby Crappy People, the goal for having dinner with your boss should be about making a positive impression in an environment outside of the workplace. Most importantly, no matter how casual the party may feel, always remember that they are still your boss, she added. 

Roshini Rajkumar career expert, executive communication and image coach said, first of all take it as a compliment you’ve been invited over to the boss’s house. “Know this could be a career-defining moment, not to put too much pressure on yourself… With that being said, be yourself,” she said. But at the same time you need to be an amplified version of yourself with the manners and etiquette of Emily Post, the wit of Aaron Sorkin and the style of Audrey Hepburn. Here are 10 things you should definitely not say when having dinner at your boss’s house plus some great advice from career experts.


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    • Liz Atkins

      Great article. You should write another article titled “10 Things You Don’t Want To Say When Having Your Employees for Dinner At Your House”. It could touch base on the etiquette surrounding your children or husband, and how to handle your children or husband saying something inappropriate or offensive.

      • Meredith Lepore

        Excellent suggestion Liz!

    • Christina

      An overall interesting article. Thank you.
      I was a little stunned, however, to read that you recommend that those who eat gluten free suck it up and eat around it or not go to a dinner party, whereas vegetarians are free to share their food restrictions with their host. This is an uninformed statement. The majority of people who eat gluten free do not do so because it is their preference, but because eating even the smallest amount of gluten could make them incredibly ill. I realize that vegetarians (after years of no meat products) are also not at liberty to just “suck it up,” but come on — 1 in 100 people has a sensitivity to gluten! Just because vegetarianism is more well known and understood doesn’t mean everyone else with food allergies should be shunned from the dinner table. Encouraging those with food sensitivities to hide them to be polite only perpetuates the idea that anyone with food restrictions is too much effort to accommodate. I may be extreme in my comparison here, but this sort of logic is the same applied to encouraging those with disabilities to apply for jobs in more accommodating places rather than urging employers to become educated in how to make an accommodating work place. There are other ways around this type of situation that should be mentioned. I entertain a lot and I also am asked to parties quite frequently. First, I think most hosts and hostesses would rather know what your food restrictions are and how they can accommodate them or that you are willing to contribute to the meal with a special dish than sit and watch you pick at food you can’t really eat. Although it may feel awkward at first, you eventually get over feeling like a “high maintenance” eater and just choose to be honest about what your restrictions are. The majority of people will be gracious and will be more than happy to make sure you can have something safe to eat, *especially* if they have prepared a gourmet meal. There’s *nothing* worse or more rude than staring at an expensive, homemade meal that the host labored over for hours only to “politely decline.” I realize that being invited to your bosses home naturally requires that you are on your best behavior so they learn to like you more socially, but in my experience being up front so it’s not an issue later is the way to go.
      People always have the option of eating beforehand, but since the whole point of eating at a bosses house is to connect on a more friendly level, not eating what they prepare seems a little rude.
      These details might be beyond the scope of this article, but I can assure you that as a consultant to those learning how to eat gluten free, this question of how to navigate eating at other people’s houses and at restaurants is frequently asked.

      • Meredith Lepore

        Hi Christina,
        Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I think you make a very good point. That was the advice I got from experts and looking now I do see how it sounds. I think the point is to give enough warning to your hostess and I would say my only argument is, and I will admit I used to get a little annoyed at my friends who had gluten allergies because it just seemed like an excuse to not eat things, but now I am actually starting to have a lot of dietary issues myself and have to be very careful about what I eat (and feel very bad about ever judging my gluten-challenged friends), so I would probably have to prepare for this situation as well. I am just a picky eater in general and I would not want to waste their delicious food!

      • Christina

        Thank you, Meredith, for your kind reply.

        We’re all on a journey learning how to navigate the complex world we live in. I can relate – I also judged people with food allergies as picky eaters. :) I find that it is much easier to address these things head on, beforehand as much as possible, so that it doesn’t become the dominating conversation during a meal. Those of us with food allergies and intolerances don’t like to be the center of attention, taking away from normal conversation. For some reason, people are much more understanding if you simply explain you have a different plate because you have food restrictions, rather than trying to pick through a dish for the safe parts. In my experience, that opens a whole can of worms about how your body reacts to problematic foods. While I am all for education (like this forum, for example), it is horribly embarrassing to be asked what symptoms arise when you eat gluten, dairy, etc. in front of guests and hosts. I’ve even had waitresses ask. Nowadays, I barely bat an eyelash and I simply say: “Google it. There’s a lot of information online.” That politely lets others know that my health isn’t up for discussion just because I can’t eat from the bread basket or ask for chicken with no sauce.

    • Val

      Another suggestion for those who have particular dietary needs is to bring your own food and have it plated there. That way, the host doesn’t need to cook for you, but you are able to eat a meal with others and be social. This takes a bit of planning (be sure to check that it’s ok first, of course) but most people are quite relieved when I suggest this!

      (And yes, telling anyone to ‘suck up’ dietary restrictions/moral lifestyle choices is very insulting. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t eat meat or cheese now without getting sick, which would be even more rude to the company. And why should that keep me from networking?)

      –A polite, social, gluten-free vegan.

    • Kay

      I am stunned the experts say to suck it up for eating gluten free. My 4 year olds lung collapsed last year from his gluten alkergy. How exavtly does one suck thst up? No pun intended. Gluten free is usually for a mefical reason. Vegetarian is ussually a personal choice. Not that I think either should ever be told to suck it up, but if uou are going to do so or completely ostracize one from social situations shouldnt it be the one that had a choice? I’m more then a little outraged at the experts that told you that. I hope you pass the ‘life threatening’ point on to them.

    • The Boss’ Wife

      I would be mortified to learn that one of my husband’s employees turned down an invitation for dinner at our house in order to avoid inconveniencing me with a food preference/intolerance/allergy. There are similar expectations of etiquette for the host/hostess. Those with class know to inquire ahead of time if the guests have special needs. Considering how much caterers and chefs charge, the least they can do is make guests feel included and welcome.

      Furthermore, you need to show a little responsibility look up celiac diaease and edit you article. You’re perpetuating a misconception. Get with it.

    • Alex deLarge

      They left out one.

      • Are you enjoying the life style my labor affords you?

    • Alex_11

      Hahaha! I liked the spouse one: “your spouse has a banging body. Way to go!” These are great things to keep in mind in any kind of social situation. I signed up to BlendAbout (http://www.blendabout.com). They match you up for dinner events with groups of people. I think it really helps my social life. Being courteous always helps, not just with your boss.

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