I usually give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that very few people are trying to be intentionally rude. Some people just have bad social skills and others have probably never worked in the food service industry and are unable to relate to or understand what workers go through.
Despite my optimism, people’s rude behavior can be mentally draining. So I thought it might be helpful to make a short and simple guide to help people realize how their actions might come across as disrespectful even if that’s not their intent. Instead of just giving you a huge list, I’ve decided to split up the guide into 3 different categories. And the first category is…
1. Basic human decency
Servers are not robots. We don’t like being ignored and there are 2 easy things to remember to help us feel more appreciated:
- Make eye contact. It’s a small thing to let us know you see us and are paying attention.
- Don’t use your phone when we are serving you. A server’s worst nightmare is coming up to a crowded table with their hands full of hot plates and not a single guest paying any attention to them because they’re too invested in their phones.
2. Table Manners
- Staying too long or coming in too late. Having a consistent flow of guests is how I make my money. Try not to linger too long after you’ve finished eating and paid your bill, especially if it is busy and other people are waiting to be seated.
- Seating yourself. If the restaurant has a host stand or a sign that reads “Please wait to be seated” then Please. Wait. To. Be. Seated. The hostess has to manage the seating chart. People seating themselves can throw everything off and become a confusing headache for the hostess and the servers.
- Moving tables. Same reason as above. Ask your server if you can move so they can move you to an open table.
- Groups that don’t order together. Ordering at different times makes things difficult for the kitchen and your server. If your group cannot arrive at the same time, at least make an effort to order at the same time.
- Asking to adjust the thermostat or music volume. Usually, your server is not allowed to adjust the music or thermostat. Moving tables may help but again, ASK YOUR SERVER BEFORE MOVING.
3. Gross germs and gross behavior
- Touching us. Would you appreciate a stranger coming up to you and grabbing you by the arm or wrist to get your attention? No? Your server feels the same way.
- Gesturing with utensils. There’s a good chance food will be flung off your utensils and onto either your server or another guest if you talk while holding your utensils. If you’re a hand talker, put the tools down before you speak.
- Stacking plates. This one usually comes from people who are trying to help, but stacked plates are actually harder to carry. Leave the plates as they are and your server will take care of the rest.
- Whistling or snapping to get our attention. We are not your dog. Please don’t treat us like we are. Enough said.
- Telling us to smile. If never understood this. Wouldn’t you rather have a genuine smile rather than a smile that was forced because you demanded it?