The Little Things Count!

In my last blog post I mentioned the idea that rudeness isn’t always an explosion. More often than not customer behaviour can be described as a lack of politeness rather than intentional rudeness. Some of the most common actions can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the servers perspective. The fact is that when a problem goes unidentified it gets worse and this low-intensity violation of social norms impacts not only the person being slighted but anyone who witnesses it. Most of the effects of this type of rudeness are on a worker’s general well-being which in turn impacts the way in which they complete their job. An experiment conducted by Christine L. Porath and Amir Erez in 2011 shows that even the participants who were just imagining incivility were affected negatively.

So with all that in mind what are these bad habits that I keep talking about? Well here are some that I have collected via the internet, the complaints of people I know and my own personal experience.

  1. All Tooth No Grin

Any smile in response to this statement is likely to be painfully forced and exaggerated. It is especially frustrating when the server already has a pleasant expression on if not disproportionally happy-go-lucky.

Oh So Natural

Oh So Natural

  1. No Phone Zone

Trying to maintain a phone conversation whilst ordering is not only rude to the person taking the order but also an easy way to not get what you want. The chances of the server not understanding what you want rise when you are distracted and unwilling to properly confirm the order. If the conversation is that important than I suggest waiting for the call to end before engaging the attention of a staff member.

  1. There is a Menu for a Reason

While small questions and clarifications are what the customer service staff are there for please do not reach the counter with no idea what you want. It wastes time for you and the other customers in the store. The staff member can probably recite the menu but you are less likely to get what you really want because you will inevitably get tired of hearing all the options and go with the first thing that sounds okay. The same principle is applied when checking if another person in your household wants to order while you are on the phone.

  1. Say Hello, Please and Thank You

It’s just basic politeness.

  1. Low Talkers

Speak clearly and directly towards the person you are addressing. Hospitality establishments are inherently loud and staff need to keep an ear out for what is going on in the background. If a customer looks behind them to gesture while speaking, the words said over their shoulder become lost in the din. Likewise if you have a quiet voice in general.

  1. Money Problems

Complaining about expensive prices will achieve nothing. You will not get free food, the server cannot do anything about the menu prices and a cheaper range of similar food undoubtedly exists elsewhere. Also, be ready to pay when it is time to do so, especially in fast-paced environments. Don’t ever bring a staff member into a ‘playful’ argument over payment, organise payment before their approach. It is very awkward when you are forced to choose between two $50 bills to pay for a meal. On that note, while it is helpful to have the money prepared, waving it in the workers face/ shoving it towards them is quite rude and very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of.

  1. Snap ‘Em Right Off

Never EVER click/whistle to get a workers attention. Small polite gestures will work with the added bonus of not completely degrading the staff to the level of a naughty puppy.

  1. In The Way

Be aware of the environment you are in. If a staff member has to continually ask you to move in order to do their job- you are probably standing in the wrong place. It will make the entire evening a lot smoother for the staff and less disrupted for you.

  1. Listen to your server

Listen properly as a server repeats your meal- there is a reason Chinese whispers churns out such silly phrases. It’s a little tedious to run over an order multiple times but it significantly reduces miscommunication which in turn gets you the right meal. Also listen when a staff member tells you about a policy or inconvenience. They know how the establishment works better than you do; e.g. an empty table in a booked out restaurant is reserved even if it looks entirely free to you. If you ask a question listen to the response and trust worker suggestions as legitimate recommendations. Don’t ignore the questions/welcoming of your server, respond to them as they are not robots.

  1. Tell me your allergies

If you have any special requirements for your order let the staff know straight away, especially if it is an allergy or religious requirement. The kitchen will take extra care to avoid cross contamination if you have an allergy as the establishment doesn’t want you to get sick. In addition to that there may be something about your chosen meal which doesn’t overtly show that it is unsuitable to you. For example having a sandwich on gluten free bread will ot negate the gluten in the brand of BBQ sauce that the establishment uses. Let the waiter know so that they can make sure all possible measures are taken to help you. On that note, do not pretend to have an allergy if you dislike something/are on a diet. Most times it is easy to spot the lie and it adds a lot of extra pressure on the kitchen to prepare your meal separately. This will then backfire on you as your meal is delayed by the process.


Let’s keep this as a general rule: DO NOT TOUCH SOMEONE WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION!

kuzco no touchy

Hospitality staff: does any of this sound familiar? Anything to add? Let me know your personal pet peeves on Facebook at The Waiter Rule or tweet me @waiterrule #petpeeves!


3 thoughts on “The Little Things Count!

  1. This is a great collection of bad habits almost anyone who works in customer service not only hospitality can relate to. Working in telco, Ive definitely had my fair share of rude, annoying and arrogant customers. Not to mention those who are actually friendly and treat you like your human. Those are the people I give all my attention to and take my time to help them out the best I can, simply because they are polite and patient. Whenever the store is busy, we are constantly apologising for the wait and thanking customers for their patience, but when they flare up and start cruising in your face and throwing pamphlets in the store, it’s really of putting. The second most annoying this is those who constantly ask for a discount. if I could give you a discount why wouldn’t I, they genuinely think I chose not to, its just that I can’t. And those who continue with their phone conversation while talking to you and continuously ask you to repeat what your are saying. Arghhh!


    • Great to know I’m not alone in my aggravation 🙂 And your so right in saying you give kinder customers extra attention and help. It’s not that you treat any customer badly (no matter how rude they are) it’s that you are genuinely more inclined to put in more effort for nicer people. Thanks for the comment! TLC


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