“How others treat the CEO says nothing, they say. But how others treat the waiter is like a magical window into the soul.” – Del Jones, USA Today
“The Waiter Rule” suggests that how we treat waiters and waitresses can reveal a lot about our personality. The majority of CEO’s are in agreement with this (and let’s be honest, they don’t agree on much).
Au Bon Pain co-founder Ron Shaich, now CEO of Panera Bread, mentions that when candidates are being interviewed for executive positions he will ask his assistant how they treated her. Being rude and demanding in these instances is often an indicator that such individuals are not team players.
Furthermore, according to Dr. Fredric Neuman of Psychology Today, how people treat waiters should be considered when choosing a future partner.
In light of the above, what does a person’s behavior towards a server reveal about their personality? To determine this, let’s analyze some common behaviors.
The friendly person who always says thank you
We have all been with these people. They are always friendly. They greet the server and get to know them by name. And they say thank you – sometimes too much. These are the type of people who see everyone as equal.
They recognize that having a high paying job does not make you superior and does not give you the right to treat people badly. They treat all people (loved ones or not) with compassion and empathy.
They accept that every person has a story. The waiter or waitress might be the sole breadwinner, or perhaps they are working two jobs. Maybe they are paying for their studies. Whatever their situation, this type of person remains cognizant of the fact that all humans are equal. They remain kind.
Such an interaction signals their ability to work well in a team. They are not judgmental. They like seeing people happy. They are genuinely nice people.
The rude person
Have you ever been to a restaurant and seen someone being rude to a waiter? You know that man or women in the corner who talks to the waitress in a condescending manner? Now it just might be that they are having a bad day. (Of course, that does not give them the right to treat others badly.) Perhaps this is just a one-time incident.
However, for some people this is a regular occurrence. Often they do not even realize they are being rude. They speak to the waiter in a condescending manner. They snap their fingers to get the waitress’s attention. To them the waiters and waitresses are invisible. Whether this is intentional or unintentional, they perceive the server as inferior based on their job.
These individuals are paying customers so they feel that the serving staff should fulfill their needs, regardless as to whether their demands are reasonable.
Individuals who demonstrate such behavior have a demanding personality. They may think they are better than other people. They may feel superior. They may be self-centered. They crave control and power. They may be status conscious.
They may have what is known as a situational value system – where they change their behavior depending on the perceived status of the person they are interacting with.
Aside from people who are friendly to servers and those who are rude, there are also those that prefer minimal interaction and those who are outright people’s people.
The person who engages in minimal interaction
Some people prefer not to engage in much conversation with the waitress or waiter. This does not mean they are rude. It may just mean that they are having a day where they don’t feel like talking to people. Everyone has days like these where they want to be in their own space.
Or, it could mean that they are introverts. They prefer that everyone just focuses on their own role. They may employ the same strategy in their workplace. As an individual, they may be goal orientated and intensely focused on efficiency and getting things done.
While some prefer to be quiet, others prefer to engage in conversation, and very often a lot of it.
The person who engages in a lot of interaction
There are always those friends that enjoy asking a lot of questions. They enjoy interacting with the waitress or waiter.
This may be due to a number of reasons. There is the outside chance that the individual enjoys annoying the waiter or waitress, but there is also the distinct possibility that the person is genuinely curious and enjoys finding out as much information as possible when they are a paying customer.
The person may also be an extrovert and genuinely enjoys meeting new people and learning more about that person.
These individuals are confident, know exactly what they want and are not afraid to voice their opinion. They are not afraid to ask questions to ensure they get exactly what they want.
Moral of the story
The behaviors we engage in with waitresses and waiters, how we interact with them, and how we treat them can reveal a lot about our personality. While certain traits that are revealed (such as being an introvert and extrovert) are rather harmless, there are others which may make the waiter feel inferior. It is important to be cognizant of one’s behavior. Everyone is human. Everyone is equal, no matter the perceived status of their job or role.