The Magic Words

A couple of weeks ago now I wrote about some of my pet peeves compiled from personal experience and popular opinion. From that list I’ve picked out a couple of the easiest conscious changes that people can make to their behaviour to be more polite to hospitality staff. I’ve also compiled some of the magical results these words can have.


This is a basic acknowledgement and validation of existence. In some of my earlier posts while outlining how important the issue of customer incivility is I mentioned its dehumanising nature. An easy way to make sure that a person is recognised as a worthy individual is by greeting them correctly. Straight away this will put you on better terms with the person bringing you your food and make the overall interaction more pleasant.

Responding to a welcome

This is a continuation of saying ‘hello’. While it’s easy to brush off a lack of greeting as a difficult or busy day it is much harder to not be affected when you are blatantly ignored. Staff members say certain greetings in order to inform you of a particular feature of the establishment or just to make conversation more naturalistic. Not responding in either case will have a negative effect on your experience. Firstly because you may miss out on information crucial to improving your dining experience and secondly because you will put your server on the back foot.

By cutting off your server and stopping them from adding pleasantries to their address you are signalling that you do not want to ‘waste time’ on politeness. Servers know how to get a message across quickly- politeness is for the benefit of the customer. If you signal that you privilege speed over courtesy that is what your server will give you. But keep in mind that this is something YOU signalled and the server may remember. If you have signalled that you don’t want small talk on one or more occasions the server will take the hint and stop attempting to talk to you in this way. This will win you no favours with the service staff and potentially make future experiences at the establishment unpleasant.

From a more altruistic point of view if the establishment is empty and the server is attempting to chat with you keep in mind that you talking to them will help pass the time for them on what could be a very long and boring shift.

Please and Thankyou

Any parenting blog will tell you about the importance of please and thankyou when instilling manners into your child’s lives. Unfortunately for service staff, these manners do not seem to have stuck around past the age of 10. Saying ‘please’ generally acknowledges the fact that someone is going out of their way to assist you and rephrases a demand as a request. The context of the statement is not always relevant to the hospitality industry- a worker is paid to do the task. Despite this ‘please’ is always necessary to recognize effort of said task and even the power balance which will make the experience more pleasant for you and your server.

Slightly different ‘thank you’ is a way to give credit once a task has been completed. Once again this is about acknowledging the effort that people have put in to bring you your meal and your appreciation for it. To those customers who respond to service with a variation of “too easy”; the server understands you are being conversational and will most likely not see anything wrong with the statement on the surface. However the connotations inherent in the phrase effectively ignore the work it has taken to produce your meal. This lack of acknowledgement will (at least subconsciously) affect the workers esteem.

Saying please and thankyou is an easy way to present a positive image of yourself. Manners make you seem grateful, empathetic and pleasant while giving off the impression of a good upbringing and a good education. More than this if you ae grateful for a customer service workers efforts that worker will be more likely to go out of their way to help you in the future.

Customers out there I really encourage you to make an effort this week to use one (or more) of these simple tricks and let me know how it improves your restaurant experience on Facebook or Twitter.



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