United States: Prosperous Entertaining – Part 2


Entertaining for business success

Eating Out

If you are invited out for a business meal, the host will usually pay.

If your host does not offer to pay, you should be prepared to pay for your own meal.

When eating out, the cost is sometimes shared with friends or colleagues. ‘Getting separate checks’ and ‘going Dutch’ refer to paying for your own portion of the bill. It is also common to ‘split the bill,’ where the cost of the meal is shared equally among the individuals.

If you invite a U.S. counterpart out socially, you should make it clear whether you wish to pay. Common ways to express this wish include ‘It’s on me’ or ‘I’d like to buy you lunch.’

American friends or colleagues will probably be delighted to learn a toast from your country.

There are a variety of ways to beckon a server. For example, you can make eye contact and raise your eyebrows, briefly wave to get his or her attention, or mouth the word for what you want such as ‘water’ or ‘coffee.’ To call for the check, you can make a writing gesture or mouth the word ‘check, please.’ You can also get a server’s attention by saying, ‘Excuse me,’ as they walk by. Americans use ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ frequently in dining situations; politeness is valued.

Home Entertaining

It is common to invite a business guest to one’s home in the U.S. This is considered a gesture to show goodwill between associates.

Be aware that it is a custom in many U.S. homes to give guests a tour of the general rooms of the house when guests arrive.

If you will be entertained in a home, expect the host’s or hostesses’s spouse or partner to be a full participant in the conversation.

Unlike some other cultures, it’s perfectly acceptable to refuse an offer of food or drink. In most cases, the host probably won’t urge you to eat.

Don’t be afraid to ask for something. Use manners and ask politely.

Before going to visit a friend, it’s common courtesy to call ahead.

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