How Do You Treat Waiters?

by Bryan Golden

The way you treat others offers a window into the type of person you are.  Your interaction with people, whose job is to serve you, reflects on your character and offers a glimpse into the way they will react to you.

When you behave in a condescending manner, you are sure to elicit a negative reaction.  Immediately, the person you are talking down to will be put off, even if they don’t show it.  You will squelch any inclination for the other person to go out of their way to help you.  At most, they will do no more than the bare minimum necessary to keep you mollified.

Corporate CEOs like to observe how job candidates treat waiters.  These corporate captains found that how a prospective employee treats a waiter offers a clear picture of the type of person he or she is.  Someone who is polite to you but discourteous to a waiter does not have desirable interpersonal skills.  They tend to be abrasive, causing friction among coworkers and subordinates.

Your treatment of waiters isn’t just significant in business settings.  A survey by a dating service discovered that being rude to waiters tops the list as the worst dining etiquette.  It is a real turnoff to be in the company of someone who is mean spirited.

Anyone can treat a waiter well when there are no mishaps or mess-ups.  The real indication of a person’s true nature is how they react when there are problems.  What do they do when a waiter makes a mistake or their meal is not what they hoped for?  Do they get indignant, make a scene, and jump down the waiter’s throat?  Or are they gracious and magnanimous?

No one likes to be berated when they make a mistake.  Some waiters are better than others.  Some are more conscientious.  You can’t manage their behavior, but you do control yours.  If you can’t handle a problem when you are eating out, how can you be depended on to handle life’s real predicaments?

People, who are rude to waiters, erroneously believe they are displaying power and authority.  They mistakenly think their behavior will impress others.  Anyone who attempts to elevate their status by stepping on others will ultimately fall flat on their face.

People with integrity and character treat everyone with courtesy and respect, regardless of their occupation, financial, or social status.  They don’t view themselves as being above or below anyone else.

The way you treat people determines to a large part how they treat you.  Not everyone will respond to kindness and consideration.  But everyone will react negatively to berating.  Your best bet for bringing out the best in people is to treat them with respect.

If you expect the worst from people, your attitude will project this and your low expectations will usually be met.  If you anticipate the best, people tend to try to live up to those expectations so as not to disappoint you.

People crave approval and recognition.  If you start out rejecting someone, they will feel there is no chance to please you and won’t even try.  However when you say please, thank you, and can you help me, others will make an extra effort to accommodate you.

Treat waiters, and everyone you encounter, with dignity.  In so doing, your relationships with people, even strangers, will improve.  You will still find some individuals you just can’t deal with.  But they will be much more of an exception.  You can never go wrong by treating another person well.

NOW AVAILABLE:  “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book.  Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.   2006 Bryan Golden