You Catch More Flies With Honey
And other life lessons from the hospitality front of house
I’ve spent about 15 years of my working life in the hospitality industry. I’ve worked both back of house (kitchen, dishwashing, prep) and front of house (serving). I love being a waitress though. Some say I am good at what I do. I say I am not the best waitress in the world — but even when I mess up you will usually be pretty happy with my service because I have a good attitude.
And that leads me to the first life lesson from the front of the house…
#1 Attitude Is Everything
This is what I tell new servers that I train: you don’t need to be the best server in the world to make good money or to be happy in your job — you just need to have a good attitude. You’re going to screw up (and not just while you’re learning the job — all the time) but if you have a good attitude, apologize to the customer with a smile, do what you can to make it up to them, they’ll be fine and they will still walk away with a good experience. If you make excuses and blame others, frown, or get snippy with them, how they feel will be reflected in your tip.
Having a good attitude can help you in other ways on your job. You’re going to work with people you don’t like, or maybe just don’t like you. You’re going to deal with cranky people (both customers and co-workers). Who knows — maybe they are just having a bad day or maybe they are dealing with some life stuff? So, when you come across these people, don’t absorb their feelings and emotions and actions — respond with love, kindness, humor, and a smile. It may or may not help them adjust their own attitude but it will make you feel better in the long run.
This lesson from the front of the house can apply in almost all areas of your life. If you have a good attitude, others will be more likely to respond positively to you. It’s hard to be mean or cranky towards someone who smiles and laughs.
#2 Be Accountable
When you screw up, it is tempting to make excuses or find a way to blame it on someone else so you don’t look so bad. But a lot of the time that will come back to bite you in the end. It’s better to just take responsibility for the mess and find a way to fix it.
You may need to be accountable to your customers or your managers. If either of them catch you in a screw up, it’s better to own up to it. If it is your boss, apologize and then suggest some ways that you could avoid doing the same thing in the future to show them that you take the issue seriously. If it is a customer, apologize and find a way to make up for your mistake.
#3 Be Forgiving
There are going to be days when you work with someone that forgets things or is getting in your way or they just don’t seem to have their head screwed on right. For the most part, it is likely that they are just having a bad day. Remember that you’re going to have bad days to and if you want your co-workers to be sympathetic when you have them you’d better take it easy on them when they are having a rough day.
You may also work with a new server that just can’t figure out how to do the job. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Let’s be real — remembering 500 things at once while smiling doesn’t come naturally to anyone. Instead of getting annoyed with them, help them out by teaching them some of your tricks for keeping it together. Be a mentor to them and they may soon be as good as you at the job!
#4 We ALL Have Bad Days
Each and everyone of us have bad days. That includes customers. If you work in a big restaurant, you might not get to know all of your customers so you don’t know what their temperament is like most of the time. A customer that comes across as being rude might have had a recent death in the family, be going through a divorce, have a baby that kept them up all night or a variety of other factors that could cause them to be cranky. It happens to all of us.
The next time you have a customer that is cranky or rude, try giving them extra attention and be especially kind to them. You’d be amazed at how their attitude can change.
#5 You Can Catch More Flies With Honey
If your mother didn’t tell you this — well, let’s face it, she did. If you don’t remember, you weren’t listening. So, listen to me now.
No matter what you do in life, you will get more out of it by being nice than by being snarky, rude, condescending, or just plain mean. Want those extra days off? Then be nice to your boss. Pick up shifts when she asks you to. Do her a favor. Do your co-workers a favor and they are much more likely to cover a shift for you. Put a little more hustle in your step and a smile on your face and your customers are going to be nicer and leave bigger tips.
Want your friends to help you move? They aren’t going to be there for you if you haven’t been there for them.
There’s nothing wrong with being nice. Some people say that makes you an “butt kisser”. But you know what? People can call me a butt kisser all they want when I get the days off that I want and customers tip me and the kitchen is willing to rush my food order because I spazzed out and walked around with an order in my pocket for 10 minutes. That’s just fine by me!