Four Tips To Talk To Servers (Without Being A Jerk)

waitress serving tray

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The other day I was out for dinner with a group of friends. One of them brought along another lady whom I’d never met previously. Our waitress was clearly stressed, but this lady only added to it. She was gruff, demanding, and didn’t even leave a tip! My friends told me she never leaves a tip. I couldn’t believe that kind of behavior.

A couple weeks ago, we listed six quick tips to win over servers and others who serve customers. That post was designed to get them loving you. This entry is more about teaching basic manners. Sadly, some people (like the friend of my friends) need refreshed. Who knows, your kindness and friendliness could lead to better service, free items, or, is she’s cute, a date.

Tip One: Empathy Is Key

I think everyone should be forced to work food service for a day. It will create nicer customers. Being a waiter or waitress sucks. They have too many tables and typically are given responsibilities other than waiting on you.

Remember, if your server makes some mistakes or is occasionally a little slow, that he likely has five or six other tables at the same time. Don’t forget too that servers are the spokespersons for the entire restaurant. If the cook screws up they get the blame.

Tip Two: Ask Politely

Try to say “please” and “thank you.” Yes, you are the customer and they are getting paid, but respect should be given to all people. Also, when ordering avoid saying “I want” too much. Say “I’d like” instead. It just sounds less demanding.

Tip Three: Watch Your Tone

Sometimes, as a customer, you may get frustrated with your server or you may just be in a bad mood. Servers are easy targets because they’re captive audiences. They sort of have to put up with your crap. So, if you’re on edge, try not to let it show in your conversation with them. They don’t deserve to be your whipping boy (or girl) because you have no outlet to vent.

You may not even know you’re doing it. I’ve told friends before that they seem to have a rude tone and they were unaware of it.

Tip Four: Tip!

In most of the United States, waiters and waitresses make less than minimum wage. Tips are their way of surviving. Also, they work really hard: constantly on their feet, dealing with demanding customers, receiving grief from impatient cooks and managers, etc. Be generous with your money. I always try to tip twenty percent, as long as the server is friendly and generally competent. The only time I cut the percentage is if she’s a jerk.

So, next time you go out, be a little friendlier with the servers. It may be basic manners, but in this day and age, sometimes that’s forgotten.

About Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is a writer, speaker, dating expert, and business owner. His articles have been viewed millions of times, and he has been featured in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal.

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