Everything I know about human nature, how to work, what my strengths and challenges are, how to listen, how/when to speak, how to be in relationships with other people, and grow once there – all of those really important major life tools came out of my time in the trenches of the food business. Do we want our kids to grow up and be adaptable, solution-oriented, money aware, PEOPLE aware, curious, kind and interesting? How about our workforce – could the company’s bottom line increase by instilling these same invaluable skills- say by adding a team building weekend at a diner in New Jersey to the current talent training agenda?
Whether waitressing, bartending, managing teams and clients, or selling my services as a voiceover talent & media developer- bookings and success still hinge on the same four things:
1). Be nice- not just the phony nice, the real, “I care about you” kind of nice. Simple kindness is also an amazingly tasty dash tossed into the human connection cocktail.
2). Stay focused and actively listen – eye contact and truly listening increase the depth and knowledge of others, and ourselves; people, in general, are constantly revealing so much richness and basic wisdom of life and who they are; all you have tois be interested and really listen.
3). Treat/see the customer/client as a friend or family member – [the family members you like that is! ] Find something in the customer that is, well, endearing. They feel it when you’re genuine and for them , well it’ s really compelling to have a stranger actually ‘ see‘ them.
4). Don’ t take things personally – If your goal is to make as much money as possible during your shift, or in your business, then why act like an entitled, self involved twit?
HELLO! Stop wasting time watching the other person/competitor, who knows the above rules, make all the money, book the gigs and the business, and win the devotion of the boss. I had an amazing experience one Saturday night at the last restaurant I ever worked in, in NYC. I was anxious to make my rent that weekend; it was snowing and bitter cold with very few of our regular customers making reservations.
As I felt my stomach tighten, and worry cloud my focus, a new table was seated in my section. Two folks, who didn’t order a bottle of wine – oh great! I immediately made the metal note of – CHEAP check – low tip!! So, though I was nice, I wasn’t allowing my usual sparkle to cut through the worry loop in my brain. I trudged into the kitchen and began cutting their bread, where I had a view of their table.
Just happening to glance over at the duo – possible father and daughter, or uncle and niece, or older man/ younger woman friends [ obvious not romantic] when all of a sudden something stopped my mind from spinning: I looked at his happy face smiling into hers, as he listened intently to every word she said. For some reason, at that moment, time stopped and I dropped effortlessly into my heart. I felt my innate connection to them and, actually, everyone else in the restaurant- even the crabby sous chef!
I didn’t notice tears rolling down my face, but when I snapped back into the present moment, and what I was doing, I realized that I finally understood what truly seeing another person meant – by experiencing that heart opening connection with strangers, no less. I became a smarter version of myself that night; a more emotionally aware and mature person.
The man’ s simple kindness to his dinning partner had the power to open my heart up to another chamber I hadn’t inhabited prior. And did I mention that they left me my best tip of the evening?