Business Culture and eating out. It may be the difference between a YES and a NO.
As we all know, your ability to be a host or a good guest is just as important (if not more so) as having a quality product or service at a completive price. That’s why your golf, tennis and/or restaurant “skills” have to be more than just adequate. And as some people don’t play golf or tennis, well this last “skill” may just have to be your saving grace.
Being able to move a client from his or her routine after a long day or a long week into accepting an invitation to dinner (where the likelihood of creating a stronger relationship is infinitely greater than at their office and will translate into the increased likelihood of a sale or contract with your company instead of the competition) is often essential to your success.
Having said this, if your dining and entertaining skills aren’t up to snuff, you can simply kiss these aspirations good-bye. You need to be able to guide your client skillfully through a pleasant evening leaving them with the sensation that you are someone that they are happy to have met and even though your product is 5% more expensive or 5% less expensive, they don’t care, they are just happy to do business with someone like you. They will be willing to justify any “minor” difference in order to maintain this enjoyable business relationship. Of course your product has to do what you say it does. Everyone needs to keep their word. But more often than not, everyone is on a level playing field; you need to shift the balance to your favor. And if you’re not an athlete, this is where you need to make it happen…at the dinner (lunch) table. An uncomfortable or awkward night could be the “death sentence” for you. So being able to communicate effectively in a language that is not your first language is the first step.
The following presentation and exercise will give you some key phrases to put your “dinner companion” at ease and show them that you are a good host or guest. You don’t need to know them all. Just master the ones that you like and be ready to slip them in at the right moment.
NOTE TO THE TEACHER:
Intermediate to advanced level.
To use this as a lesson, assign the blog as a reading exercise and have them focus on the words or phrases which go to external links for their definition or explanation. You can begin by asking your students to explain what they think the proverb means.
Then as the second part of the lesson, just print out the Worksheet and Menu at the end of the PPP. In each block ask students to see if they can come up with 1 or 2 examples on their own. Then go through the corresponding slide. Ask them to write down 2 or 3 examples they like (questions and/or answers). Once the worksheet is full, have students use the menu to role play «host and guest» at dinner. Either play the role of waiter yourself or assign a third student to this role. The menu has items that give only a name of the dish which means that you or the student will have to invent the contents for these items. The Actual PPP can be downloaded from Scribd but you can see the whole lesson quickly using the SlideShare version.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have a comment or anecdote? Write and let me know. Want to receive a copy of the next post? Sign-up to receive the next blog post.