Garbage In Garbage Out

by Francine Cohen

The beginning of the end of winter just passed, marked by the Super Bowl.  It's a Sunday afternoon that's a welcome respite from the cautious eating and drinking most maintain throughout the rest of the year, a day when (assuming you're neither a bartender –a.k.a. professional - or a barfly) no judgments are passed as you consume an entire seven layer dip and a six pack all by yourself.

Heck, that kind of indulgence is welcome, even expected, at your annual Bowl day gathering.

What's also expected is that you're going to share that beer guzzling and chip dipping ritual with some of the same people you shared it with last year.  And the year before. And maybe even the year before that.  Your football season denouement not only has F&B rituals, but there is an expected cast of characters who support your starting role in that ritual.

But how well do you know them?  You high five them when your team's end zone dance (still forbidden and fine worthy) is underway, you smile and ask how they've been since last time.  But really, do you know them?  Do you know if their uncle had open heart surgery in the last twelve months? Do you know if their sister had a baby or their spouse lost a job?

Quite possibly not.

This same scenario translates to both your colleagues and guests.  One engages in cursory conversation, shares a laugh, but what do you really know?

Does it matter?

Hell, yes.

We all need to stop for a few minutes, put down our smartphones, and connect.  Really connect.  Look that colleague in the eye.  Wait for the response when we utter the greeting "Hi, how are you?" and hear what the answer is.

Paying attention to the nuances and details of the lives of people around you makes a much more enriched interaction.  It can help you understand why that bar back isn't hustling like usual or why that guest is acting persnickety.  The deeper perspective of knowing just who and what you're dealing with can make the difference between you getting all wound up and reacting negatively to someone and you understanding where they're coming from and letting their mishegos roll off your back while you return to simply focusing on your craft.

The tide rolls in and out with regularity every day.  That's not going to change.  But what can change, and might make for a more satisfying work environment, is changing your own approach.  It's an easy enough thing to do between now and high tide.  Think about connecting with the people around you.  Learn how to stop a minute, take a breath, take some real interest in their lives and allow them to do the same for you, share a personal insight or two (nothing revealing - we don't want guests stalking you) and connect.

This makes the world of hospitality a much more hospitable place.  As sure as that water keeps going in and out and that game keeps getting played every winter, turning the tide on your interactions with colleagues and guests will make you a happier bartender.

Think about it.

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