Are breakfast meetings professional?

Not too long ago I read a post from someone who was uncomfortable meeting a member of the opposite sex for a breakfast meeting. This person was in sales and the meeting was requested by a prospective member. In the post, the sales person (a female) noted that she didn't think this was professional and she was uncomfortable having a meal with a male business person because she felt it could be misconstrued and people would think it was personal - not business.

I've struggled with writing this blog for some time because my initial reaction was that just because you are breaking bread with a member of the opposite sex does not mean that you are involved in anything untoward. However, in thinking more about it I realize that in some communities this could very well be the case. And a person can have lots of reasons for being uncomfortable in a situation like this.

Maybe it's because I've spent 17 years conducting business over a meal with the many different people, male and female and of all ages and varying cultures, that I see nothing wrong with it. I've been in many situations that made me way more uncomfortable than trying to make a sell or convince someone to follow my lead.

So ask  yourself if you are comfortable having a meal with a member of the opposite sex and if you think this is professional behavior. And when you see a male and female having a meal, consider that they may be conducting business.  But also be remember to open to the idea that someone may not be comfortable having a meal with you.

Written by:
Ali Crain, CCE, IOM, ACE
KCCE Executive Director