The State of Mind The Guest Is In Makes the Difference

I haven’t posted lately so that I could catch up on some rest and do something else rather than plant myself in front of the computer. In fact it does one good to switch focus once in a while as family members have taken turns being sick in the house whereas I have so far managed to escape all that , touch wood.

But tonight’s topic isn’t so much about what has gone on the last few days but what I have been doing for quite a long time now and that is putting up with guest’s special requests and general character. First of all there are more good people out there than bad ones. Let’s be clear on that because if it was the other way around I don’t think too many would be able to afford a living much less put up with the guests in the first place.

Which brings me up to the point of this post. You see I work with people half my age and I see them get a little flustered when they get treated shabbily by the guest. After a time they will either look for something else in another profession or get over it. It is that simple.

Now I confess a number of years ago when I first started out if someone did not leave much I sometimes felt a little bad for myself. It is normal. But then as time went on it became normal to find someone who would not leave much or they would sit there for countless hours before leaving and so on. It never changed. Someone would always complain about something even if it wasn’t your fault but you had to fix it.

The difference was after a time these obstacles during service became normal. No matter what happens in the dining room a waiter has to acknowledge the fact that it is not an attack on him or herself personally.

It is , and get this , the state of mind the guests were in before they entered the restaurant.

What happens during the evening has nothing to do with you , the waiter! Understand that and you will go through each night smoothly.

Just think of it for a second , when something is not going right in someone’s life they look to pass blame on someone or something and who better than the restaurant they are eating in and the server who is serving them.

Sure anyone can make a mistake but it is the guest’s reaction that explains a lot about that person. Why do some think a mistake is no big deal and others make it like it is their biggest ordeal?

It is not you , it is them and what was going on in their heads before they arrived. I cannot solve their personal problems of which I know nothing of.

The only thing I can do is welcome them , take the order , give good service and bill them. That is it. I can make them feel better than they had felt before they came in but if they cannot generously tip me at the conclusion of their meal that is their fault and not mine.

This is why you see lousier waiters make more money than others sometimes simply because they had happier people sit in their section that evening. They could make mistake after mistake or neglect to do the table maintenance etc. and still be left a good tip.

In conclusion , the tip you will receive will depend on the customer’s state of mind before they came in. If they were in a bad mood at all upon their arrival , whether you get a good tip or not will depend on their acceptance of your good service and overcoming their negative state of mind at the beginning.

If you take anything away from this post and it helps you deal with the public better let me know. I am always open for discussion.



  1. Stephen, I thought you were 29 – how can you work with waiters half your age?? I agree with your comment that (some of) the guests state of mind has some impact on service perception. I hate giving stuff away, and it seems like the customer who complains gets the most things discounted – which might have something to do with it. You know the person – this steak is a little under/over cooked, when in reality, it is perfect. Perfect service, perfect food – but still a complaint. Equals reduced bill (plus a reduced tip). Honestly, I'm one of these guys who goes out for a nice dinner, gets crappy service and food – doesn't complain, and still leaves a decent tip (as long as no one is rude to me – I'm really out just to get out, for the company, and to eat). For some people it is very different – and they think because we are waiters (some of us extraordinary), we must wait on them the entire time (not possible with 3 other tables). Aim for meeting their needs and wants, but I'm not going to converse with you the entire meal to try to better my tip. I practice silent service.Anyways, back to your post, I hope that most servers (or anyone who works in the food industry) realizes that they cannot control every guests perception, and that at the end of the day, you go home, don't sweat the small stuff (still, as maybe someone who doesn't like it when people do complain, when I'm there, I do take all complaints seriously, and personally go all out to make sure that they are happy =))

  2. Michael…you are a happy person who cannot understand why others are not. I agree totally with what you said. That is precisely why we really don't have control over what we make. If we do everything right , we in some cases will never be satisfactorily compensated for it. So we just relax and do what we can. Hey Mike you are awesome waiter.

  3. I'm with Michael. When I go out, it's because I want. Not because I need to, and I know someone who is like that. She goes out most nights and weekends because she has no one with her. I'm sure she knows the "good" and "bad" restaurants, servers, times of the evening, etc. I feel bad for her.I never forget to tip. Even at the burger joint that just happens to serve on real china. I try to find something good in every trip we make.

  4. Anonymous…right on. You are in a good frame of mind right from the start.

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