Thou will not discuss politics, religion, or morality over a business lunch

Phrases that should not be heard during a business lunch :
[ul][li] “They shouldn’t segregate ‘at risk’ prisoners, stick in with the rest and let nature take its course”[/li][li] “So, you’d be OK if a member of your family was executed for a crime they didn’t commit”[/li][li] “If someone touched my daughter I’d go and kill him”[/ul][/li]I’m paraphrasing, but still, it’s not that I agree or disagree with the above, it’s just that this was a business lunch, one does not discuss rape and murder during a business lunch, not where I come from certainly. This is during an on-going discussion between the management and the customer (well potential partners really) who we’re trying to sell the system to. Made worse by the fact the management and the customers were obviously never going to agree. Made even worse by the fact that the three engineers (of which I am one) gave up their lunch hour for a couple of (really quite good) sandwiches so we’d be on hand to answer technical questions. Not be forced to sit there and and listen to them debate the state of society. I think they covered gun control, the death penalty, speeding, criminal justice, probably a couple of other things I tuned out, but managed to avoid religion as far as I recall.

The worst thing about all of this is that I sat quietly through all the nonsense being spouted from all sides, gritted my teeth as the same old myths and tripe was paraded around. I decided that it would bad if I started arguing with the customers – or with management in front of the customers – apparently it’s OK for the management to argue with the customers. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t heated or even that uncomfortable, I think they were all enjoying themselves, but it was deeply, deeply inappropriate IMHO. And while management didn’t start it they certainly did very little to steer the conversation in a better direction and at the end were actively extending the argument.

In the end I adopted a bemused smirk and sat quietly drinking coffee.

So, I’m interested – am I wrong, is that appropriate conversation for a business lunch ? Should I have jumped in and explained my views ? Should I have politely corrected the factual mistakes on both sides ? Or should I just have stood up and said “Oh, for fucks sake!” and wandered off.


Apologies for the lack of creative swearing, but I’m really more amused than pissed off.

How about derailing the stupidity of the person making this comment with:

It probably depends on your business.


I would have played possum just as you did since your job may be compromised with bad feelings. Anywhere else the gloves would have came off. Sometimes a good old fashioned bare knuckle fist fight is in order too.

Next time one of your bosses says something you just know is wrong, stand up, reach across the table, grab him by his tie and pull him in so your face and his are mere inches apart, be sure to spit in his face while you scream, “CITE?

That ought to make them think twice about talking politics over business lunches.

Thanks for the responses,

I should have done that when they trotted out the MacDonalds hot coffee frivolous lawsuit thing (I almost explained why it wasn’t really that frivolous but didn’t want to come across as a smart-arse and had mostly lost the will to live by then).

As for the borderline-fascist customer unfortunately his views don’t have any bearing on him making, potentially, a lot of money for us. He also came out with the line “Have you been in prison ? No ? Maybe you should try it before you comment.” or words to that effect, not sure what the hell that was about.

I’ll give you that. Unfortunately I work in telecoms, when it’s generally not what you expect.

From personal experience with, not so much contentious meetings, as ones that are sooo long and dull that you hope that one of your co-workers (and ideally the person who is driving the train-wreck) will spontaneously combust to enliven the proceedings… the correct ettiquette appears to be:

  1. Fish into your pocket for your “on-call” cell-phone that is obviously switched to silent / vibrate mode.

  2. “Answer” the phone, while half turned from the meeting and obviously apologising by way of body language for this interruption to the terribly important proceedings.

  3. Be overheard to mutter things such as “Priority 1?” and “Right now?”

  4. Excuse yourself from the meeting and flee… :slight_smile:

I think you did the right thing in not commenting, Arguing with stupid people is usually a COMPLETE waste of time. And it is oh so true, and unfortuante, that stupidity is apparently no barrier to wealth.

Also bad topics for vacation chats.

Posted by Lord Ashtar

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA - you have made my lunch completely enjoyable with that remark, sir. :smiley: