As we’ve previously discussed going to lunch with the boss, I thought it appropriate to discuss lunching with co-workers.
Personally, I prefer one on one co-worker lunches. It’s less intimidating and there’s no question of does John get along with Jane or vice-versa.
Initially, I don’t really mention anything about the office. I use the time to get to know the person outside the workplace. I’ve found some amazing friends this way.
Ultimately, the conversation usually does drift to the office, office gossip and office politics. While I don’t advocate using this type of conversation as a litmus test for your personal views, it is an opportunity to get another person’s perspective. But tread carefully. There is potential for this to come back to haunt you.
It’s probably the journalist in me, but I tend to let the other person steer the conversation and set the tone. I try not to say anything I wouldn’t say to my boss’s face. This is a good policy and it has worked well for me.
Obviously, the more you lunch with the same person, you can relax this a little, but I would never suggest saying anything you wouldn’t say directly to your boss.
The potential sticky situation exists when lunching with a member of the opposite sex. I’ve found just using good judgment and being honest keeps this from being a problem.
Is there such a thing as a casual lunch with your boss? I am not talking about a formal business lunch with clients or even a group lunch with other staff members. In this case, I am talking about the one on one lunch on a given, regular Wednesday.
Before my current position, I would have said no. It is not only not possible, but ill-advised.
Now, I work in a two person department. My supervisor and I regularly (at least every couple of months) go to lunch together. Sometimes we talk about work, but mostly we talk about other things. It is an opportunity to connect without the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of our co-workers. It’s relaxed.
Knowing this was an anomaly from my previous experiences, I asked around about how other people view going to lunch with the boss.
On friend had two very different stories to tell.
“I was working for a women’s lifestyle magazine in St. Louis. It was very about looks, and appearances, etc. I was broke, a graphic design graduate, and definitely not looking “the part” at a women’s lifestyle magazine where everyone looked like this. One day my boss (the guy) came and asked if we could go to lunch (out of the ordinary). He took me to a super healthy restaurant and proceeded to pick out my meal and stare at me as if to say “are you going to eat ALL of that?” It was the most torturous experience and I felt horrible about myself for the remaining four months I worked there. I was broke and hungry all the time.”
Yikes! I have no idea how I would handle that situation. Luckily, the other lunch with the boss situation was much better.
“I was hired for my current job over lunch with my boss. He took me out to offer me the job and it was the best lunch I’d ever had (it was just McCallister’s). We talked about my ideas for the position and what we thought we could do to expand. It was really great having someone actually interested in what I thought I could do, and what my experiences were. It was a great preview of my position and what was to come.”
I think the takeaway from the above situations is that a lunch with your boss can give you insight unavailable in the every day office setting.