I have to admit, my job is pretty awesome. Part of what makes it so awesome is that sometimes I have to network. And by network, I mean grab coffee or lunch with a referral partner, client, or friend. There’s nothing I love more than learning about other small businesses and figuring out how to support others when I can.
I’ve always been the type of person who watches how others treat servers at restaurants, just because I think that it speaks volumes about who the person really is. I’m not the only person who does this. In fact, I’ve read stories about CEOs doing this before – even as part of an interview process!
Former Raytheon CEO, Bill Swanson, wrote in his book, Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management, “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person.”
Here are 3 tell-tale signs that the how someone talks to their waiter is an indication of what he or she would be like to work with:
1. Communication Skills – Do they say “please” or “May I” when they are speaking? If they aren’t, there’s a problem. “Give me this” or “Give me that” is not a respectful tone. When people are polite, it shows. It also shows that they have good communication skills and know how to successfully interact with others in order to get what they need. That type of communication is essential in business.
2. Positivity – How is their body language? Are they positive about the interaction, or complaining incessantly? Positivity goes a long way, even in business. It doesn’t matter if the person is having a bad day – the waiter doesn’t need to feel it! Maybe the waiter is having a bad day, too – you’ll never know! So, what happens when the check doesn’t come right away, refills aren’t immediate, and finished plates hang out on the table for a little too long? It’s not the end of the world… but does the person sitting across from you act like it is? If so, that person will probably act like that every time something doesn’t go his or her way… and there’s a good chance that the person thinks that things NEVER go their way.
3. Personal Relationships – People should always tip graciously. Waiters are depending on tips to pay their mortgage or rent, raise children, and keep food on their shelves. They aren’t hanging out in restaurants just for fun. Working in a restaurant is a tough job! They spend all day on their feet, hustling back and forth – all to earn the possibility of getting a great tip. People that value others and value personal relationships understand the importance of generosity when it comes to tipping. What seems to be more important to the person sitting across from you – 62 cents or the fact that the waiter is a human being?
The fact of the matter is that someone’s behavior at lunch CAN give you insight into what he or she might be like in all sorts of situations. I guess the funny thing is that so many CEOs use this method for getting to know people because many of them have been a waiter, waitress, or bartender on the receiving end of these interactions or a similar job along the way.
That’s ironic, isn’t it? The person serving you lunch today may be running a multi-billion dollar corporation tomorrow.
If your lunch date doesn’t understand that… I’d find another lunch date.
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