I work in a small team of 3 senior developers. One person on the team is leaving, and on his last day, my boss, my boss's boss, and the department VP are taking the whole team out to lunch. I'm comfortable around the three managers, but I'm a little bit nervous about the lunch. Could anyone offer some good tips for proper etiquette for the lunch? We are going to a restaurant nearby, but I'm not sure which one.

Where should I sit during the lunch? Should I try to engage with people on my team or the managers? What am I forgetting?

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    This is so dependent on location and culture and as an adult should the they not know how to behave.
    – Neuro
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 15:58
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    Related (on alcohol): workplace.stackexchange.com/q/107/325 Commented May 31, 2013 at 19:36
  • This would be a great question for the Etiquette proposal on Area51. I would advise interested parties to seriously consider committing to and/or spreading the word about that proposed site :) Commented May 1, 2014 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


Tip 1: Don't be a jackass

You are still at work, and you are still representing your company, rude remarks and vulgar jokes are out of the question. Act professionally like you would do at work in the company of those managers.

Tip 2: Don't be a jerk to the staff

Sure maybe the waitress and the cooks screwed up and put your pickles in at right angles when you specifically asked for them to be parallel, but don't be an ass about it, yelling about it and causing a commotion is going to look bad on you, even worse, it will look bad on your company.

Tip 3: Avoid alcohol hic

When ordering the drinks try to avoid alcohol, remember, still a work environment. The potential exception is if the managers also all do it, but even in that scenario, you know your limits, I hope, don't over do it, stick to one if you can. You still have to go back to work afterwards

Note: Be wary of this, this is different in different cultures. If you are unsure of what is acceptable then play it safe and get a soft drink

Tip 4: Red Lobster

I don't know if the company is paying or if you are all paying for yourself. If its the former, then don't order something pricey just because you can. Order something that you would normally order if you were the one paying for it. You never know, you just might be, and you don't want to be stuck with a bill that you can't pay.

Tip 5: Musical chairs, Where to sit

This I can't really see as mattering much, it's just sitting for lunch. Just don't plonk yourself in a seat and refuse to move if two other people want to sit next to eachother, given you don't really mind where you sit its easier to just avoid confrontation.

Everything you should be doing should paint a picture of you as a professional, smart employee who doesn't snap at the slightest thing. This is especially important in the company of your higher up's, acting a fool would be a bad career move.

Tip 6: Loosen up, but not so lose that your pants fall off

Don't actually loosen your trousers, this was metaphorical.

Just relax and enjoy the lunch and probably reminisce about the employee who is leaving. Don't panic too much about the others there, they are just people too.

Tip 7: Don't make it all about you, that's MY advice to you

Sure you are now in the company of many higher ups and have the perfect opportunity to show off about what you've done to hopefully gain some attention. But don't. This lunch isn't about you, its about the employee who is leaving, keep that in mind.

Tip 8: If you like it, put a ring on it. Engaging at lunch

Don't think of them as 'Your team' and 'managers'. You are all employees working for the same company. Engage with everyone where appropriate, don't butt into conversations, but don't sit there silently and ignore everyone either.

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    a few comments. 1) perpendicular == right angles. 2) a decent rule of thumb regarding the alcoholic drinks is that if everyone is ordering some, order yourself a coke/diet coke/ginger ale, with a shot of rum on the side, AND A GLASS OF WATER. dump the shot into the soda, and you end up fitting in without taking too much alcohol, and have the water to dilute just in case.
    – acolyte
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 16:00
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    @acolyte, that drink order would strike me as extremely strange. Is the concern that the bartender would put more than one shot of liquor into the drink?
    – Ryan M
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 22:30
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    @Ryan not at all, but some places think a "rum and coke" means a short glass filled with crushed ice, a tiny bit of rum, and about four shots of coke is acceptable. that is not. And what's so strange? you dont explain it all. just say "bring me a coke, and a shot of rum on the side. A glass of water too, please."
    – acolyte
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 1:52
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    Fantastic answer
    – Sahil
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 6:32
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    I have to say, I would find that drink order passing strange, too. And a strange order would make me think "this person seems extremely focused on what booze he gets with his lunch." Just order a drink, if the bosses do, and sip it slowly. Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 22:32

RhysW gave some good general restaurant advice. Specific to your question: you are describing a going-away lunch with six attendees. First, the lunch has a purpose, and second, it's not a huge group. Therefore:

  1. There is a guest of honor. Discussion should involve him; this isn't the time for you and someone else to chat about your shared hobby that nobody else cares about. If the person who's leaving has been open about where he's going, you can talk about the exciting opportunities he's looking forward to.

  2. There is a guest of honor, so let him sit somewhere near the center -- though with such a small group it doesn't really matter that much.

  3. It's a small group, so likely there will be one conversation, not several. When I'm a random attendee (not a manager) at one of these, I take my conversational leads from the guest of honor or the managers.

  4. It's lunch. It'll be over in an hour. Do you guys ever eat lunch together otherwise? It probably won't be that different. Just go with the flow.

  • The center, or 'The head of the table', if there is one, also works.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 2:10
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    Also if the company is not paying the bill of the guest of honor should be split amongst the rest of the people.
    – Arnakester
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 16:07

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