You won’t change them, but you can surprise them 🙂
When I was a waiter almost twenty years ago, I’ve had many encounters with a variety of guests: nice, angry, happy, sad, appreciative, unkind, and some that felt even a bit evil.
This is nothing new, and every waiter has had their set of encounters and stories they could share with the world, and many would blow any of my stories or experiences out of the water.
The thing is, you can pretty much tell off the bat how your interaction will be with new guests that sit at your table, and you realize fairly quickly how you must adapt and pivot or you’re set for an hour of hell (little more or a little less).
I’ve never once done anything inappropriate to a guest’s order or their food or their drinks or anything else, as I both thought it is not the right thing to do, and I believe that if I did something then someone else will end up doing the same to me.
But I did flip the script and showered them with kindness. I went out of my way to not only attend to their requests but visit them more frequently, ask for their needs, refill their drinks before it was needed, and basically provide them an A+ service they weren’t expecting.
Now I’ve done the same to all other customers, but it seemed that the unkind guests were so undeserving that it stood out even more.
In the beginning, they’re caught off guard, suspecting, cynical, and close off even more, but that changes pretty quickly. As you’re nice to them, and you smile at them, and you’re actually taking care of them, they turn from cold to warm, and they begin mimicking you, smiling back, asking how your day is going, and even maintaining a kind conversation with you.
Of course, this doesn’t happen every single time, but as such conversions were so frequent it became a personal mantra I spoke to myself as soon as such guests sat in my section. I would say to myself to shower them with kindness, to treat them well, to be nice no matter what; most of the times it worked, and rarely it didn’t when they weren’t wavering and were going out of their way to make your server experience hell and your day miserable.
But another amazing discovery I made was that once converted, and I befriended such terrible guests, they didn’t only turn out to be friendly, but they were fun, happy, and ended up leaving me an amazing tip 🙂
…and the next time they visited, we were able to pick up our friendly conversation right off the start with no thawing required whatsoever.