This isn't so much of a workplace-question as an extra-workplace question. I am a pretty junior employee - a developer, and I have joined this company only six months ago on my first ever job. Yesterday, I met a person in a restaurant who I have met with a couple of times before. Ours isn't a very big company and this person - let's call him G - was a former business partner of my bosses - the two directors of the company. So he isn't my boss, but he's someone who my bosses keep in touch with.

As I had met G before and he was sitting alone, he smiled when he saw me and I sat opposite him. We did a bit of small talk and as it seemed he'd already had something, he ordered coffee and I ordered something to eat.

We talked about my earlier experiences in the company and he offered me his views, which I liked. When I was done eating, he told the waiter to add my bill to his own. I hesitated, but when he insisted, I didn't refuse. Then I jokingly offered to pay his bill the next time we'd meet and shook hands, and he left the restaurant.

Was my course of action correct in this case? My parents said that senior people usually pay the junior person's bill when they meet in a restaurant.

  • 22
    You are worrying over nothing.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 10:59
  • @EdHeal Thanks. It's just that it's difficult to tell a good situation from a bad one in the workplace, atleast at this stage in my career.
    – cst1992
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 11:20
  • 3
    Please remember that we are all human. Just be polite and honest - you will not go far wrong. Yes - we all do make a faux pas once in a while (you did not) but these things get forgotten quick quickly. Also bear in mind he might have been lonely and enjoyed the company
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 11:22
  • 4
    The only thing to keep in mind is that you don't gossip in situations like this.
    – user8036
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 16:28
  • I've rolled back the edit made by BryanH as I felt it narrowed the question down too much. It could still be improved but the original title, while imperfect, covers the question better.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


Yes, you did nothing wrong. Don't worry about it.


Unless you ignored obvious signs that he preferred to eat alone, which doesn't sound like it was the case, then you didn't do anything wrong. Have a look at some of the other questions about "extra-workplace" situations like lunches, parties or run-ins with higher management.

The key thing to remember is that these people are just that: people. You obviously want to be respectful of their position in the company or community but they enjoy good company just like anyone else. Don't turn a chance encounter into a sales pitch or bragging contest but go with the natural flow of the conversation. In most of these conversations you'll be doing more listening than talking, but that can vary depending on how talkative the other person is.

  • 1
    It didn't look like he wanted to eat alone, but I'll make a point to ask first from now on. Thanks.
    – cst1992
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 5:30

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