Act like Europeans. Team dinners are by-far one of the best parts of consulting. It is a combination of smart people, good food, wine, and story-telling. As I told a friend, if there were no team dinners. . not sure if it would really be worth it.
It is the rare situation where Americans (yes, I am an American), act like Europeans. We take our time, order appetizers, drink espresso, and really learn about each others. We rarely talk about work, instead ponder vacations, family, and fun.
Be politically incorrect. For the teams I have been on in the past. . . I become very close to my teammates. We talk about life insurance, money, religion, politics, and basically everything they tell you not to talk about. It’s all based on trust.
Granted, I am not this OPEN with everyone, but for the select crew. . . there really is no off-limits. Hell, I even told a few of them about my rentals and my consulting blog.
Be adventurous. The financial and psychological cost for ordering a new dish during a weekday dinner = 0. The client is paying for the food, and even if you don’t like it, you can probably eat something from a friend’s plate or even re-order. Chances are you at a full lunch anyway and are better off not eating.
Learn about each other. You get pretty close to your teams. After a while, you can order for each other. When I came late to a dinner after finishing a meeting with the client at 7pm, my dinner was already ordered. Steak (medium rare, how I like it), a glass of Cabernet, and mac&cheese on the side. Some people joke. . . oh, yeah (s)he is my week-day wife(husband). It’s kind of true.
Get Fat. Unfortunately, all this eating and largesse creates fat people. When you are eating 3 meals a day, appetizers, deserts. It is trouble.
For the first time in more than 10+ years of consulting and travel, I “split” a dish with a friend. We ordered 1 entree and split it between the two of us. Brilliant. Not sure what it took me 10+ years to figure that one out.
Share food. Big believer that you should share food with people. It touches a basic part of our brain; it transcends all the barriers – class, rate, politics, religion, teams. I don’t really call anyone my “friend” until I have shared a dozen meals with them. In the case of some of my teammates. I have shared hundreds of meals with them.
Yes, that is a hamburger with a fried egg on it. A votre sante.