10 Ways to Show Courtesy to Wait Staff
By Rachel Wagner
It seems we go to great lengths to show courtesy and professionalism with clients or the boss at a business meal. But, what about those who serve you at a business lunch or conference banquet?
Wait staff and servers should be treated in a professional manner, too. Not only does it reflect well on your personal brand and your company's brand, but diners who show courtesy to wait staff make the server's job easier and more enjoyable.
Here are ten dining manners that show appreciation and courtesy to your restaurant server:
- If you’re hosting the meal, arrive early and let the maitre d' or server know you’re the host of the meal. Servers appreciate knowing this ahead of time so that they can take the guest’s order first and place the check next to the host instead of in the middle of the table.
- Not talking on a cell phone while ordering (or at any time while at the table).
- Keeping pace with other diners at the table when eating. If you talk continually or are just a slow eater, it delays the next course for everyone.
- Placing your napkin to the left of the plate when finished. By no means place it in the middle of the plate on top of the remaining food—or worse yet, blow your nose on it.
- Putting your silverware in the “I am finished” position on the plate (about 10:20). This indicates to the server that your plate can be removed without the server having to interrupt your conversation and ask if you are finished.
- Not gesturing wildly with your hands. It’s not only impolite, but makes it difficult for the wait staff to serve you from behind. If something accidently gets bumped or spilled, it makes the server look like the bad guy.
- If you need your server, try to catch his or her eye. Don’t snap your fingers, and avoid summoning the server when he is on the way to another table with an armload of food.
- Not stacking dirty dishes or handing them to the server. For safety reasons, let the server do this.
- At banquets, not roaming around between courses to visit people at other tables. The servers are trying to stay on schedule and this makes it challenging to dodge around diners when trying to serve the next course. Try to arrive early if you want to mingle and network.
- Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you. These are simple words, but they mean so much.
Savvy professionals know that manners matter in business dining—and that includes treating wait staff as the professionals that they are.
Rachel Wagner is a certified corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant and founder of the business etiquette firm, Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. She trains leadership teams on the topics of business and dining etiquette to polish their professional presence and the image of their company. Rachel is active with the American Society for Training and Development and the National Speaker’s Association. She is author of a popular e-zine, The Savvy Professional, and is frequently quoted in the media. She can be reached by phone at 918.970.4400 or by email at Rachel@EtiquetteTrainer.com. Website: www.EtiquetteTrainer.com.