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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills entrepreneur Lisa Vanderpump is weighing in on answers to age-old questions that can lead to some pretty awkward professional encounters: Who pays for a business lunch? Is it OK to be on the phone during the meal? Is it socially acceptable to drink, or a total no-no?
As a longtime restaurant and bar owner — not to mention executive producer of Vanderpump Rules and Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine editor — Lisa knows a thing or two about the etiquette of dining with professional contacts, so we're very much inclined to follow the advice she put forth in The Hollywood Reporter regarding business lunch etiquette.
First of all, she says that phones are OK on a business lunch — but only under certain circumstances: "I think generally you should put your phone aside and then you warn somebody in advance," she says." If it’s somebody you see regularly that you have a very casual relationship with, I think it’s OK then. If it’s a meeting, you should set it aside unless you’re expecting a call and then say, "I’m sorry, I have to take this."
As far as drinking goes, Lisa takes a pretty relaxed — and European — approach: "I come from a very different sensibility from Europe. Most people, especially at business lunches, drink. I wish they did more here because they’d spend more money. Often, people just come in for a glass of water and a salad, which isn’t as much fun. I lived in England my whole life, and you’re not shipped off to Betty Ford if you order a glass of wine at lunch, so I think there is room here for having a glass and relaxing and not putting yourself under so much pressure."
That said, relaxation should not be a principle extended to punctuality. "Im a real stickler for time," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I think it’s a big message if someone invited you, and it's important. I think 10 minutes is the maximum otherwise you’re really saying to someone, 'Your time is less important than mine.' I think that’s a huge message. I’m very punctual."
Lisa suggests ordering a tidy dish to keep the meal professional and comfortable. "I would ask for a penne, something bite-sized because you don’t want it flicking around on your shirt or their shirt... Positively hazardous with the long spaghetti noodle flying. I want to look at the end of the lunch the same way that I started and not like I’ve been wrestling with a spaghetti Bolognese. Corn on the cob, not that anywhere serves it, but theres no good way to eat corn on the cob. That’s what you eat when you’ve been married ten years."
And when it comes to picking up the tab at the end of the meal, "You have to use your judgment," Lisa recommends. But there is actually a right way to do it: "If someone invites you, then that person should pick it up. I firmly believe it. If you really want to pay it, as you walk in you give the card so that it's done and there’s no struggle."
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