What did I learn from being a waiter ?
Ok, it’s a while ago now, but my 6 years as a waiter gave me a foundation before entering the medical workforce. Most of what I learned remains relevant to my work and social life.
Of course I learned a range of practical skills which come in handy all the time and learned some knowledge of food, wine and restaurants.
The important lessons were around customer service.
My last waiting job was in a fine dining restaurant, and a high level of customer service was obviously required. Engaging the customer in the restaurant, menu and dining experience, through communication, creating a pleasant environment and attention to detail was very important.
Attention to detail without being imposing was the key. I remember placing two ashtrays on a table (in the old days of smoking !), one for the ash and the other one to quickly place on top of the dirty one when the food came out.
Reading the customer and what they wanted was important. Did they want lots of attention and extra service or to be left alone to enjoy the company of their date ?
And back in the day when a $5-20 tip was a real bonus, knowing that there would be a reward at the end of the night for the extra attention and effort was a real positive.
So I learned what it’s like to provide a service (directly relevant to almost every job and interaction) and what it’s like to be thanked for providing a service (like taking care of a staff member or giving someone a thank you gift).
If you have ever been on the receiving end of good service you never forget and likewise if you have ever been thanked with gift (like a bottle of wine) you never forget someone’s generosity and sincereness.
Both of these go a long way to developing and maintaing relationships.