1 Breath, 1 Thought, 1 Conversation

I’ve recently received exceptionally poor service at local restaurants.  

On Father’s Day, my dad and I came across a restaurant with a beautiful patio facing the river. Although we meant to have a quick beverage and a snack before heading towards the park nearby, the menu and view welcomed us to stay for dinner.

Our server was frustrated from the start. When she mistakenly brought red wine instead of white, she sighed heavily. Defeated, she grabbed the glass and slammed it onto the table behind her, making a loud sound. When a diner from another table asked for an empty wine glass to share the bottle he purchased for the table, she sarcastically replied, “if I can find a clean one – wish me luck.”

It was clear that the server was having a bad day. You could feel her frustration with the kitchen and the management team. I wished that someone from the restaurant would notice her behaviour, take her aside, and have a conversation to check in with her. Instead of receiving the connection she required, our server kept working, which negatively impacted our family celebration as well as the reputation of the establishment.

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Believe me when I say, you can only be in one place at a time.

Hard as you try, you can only be engaged in 1 breath, 1 thought, 1 conversation.

On Saturday night I was having a snack at a casino restaurant. This establishment is staffed with hosts, bartenders and servers. 20 minutes after being seated, we caught the attention of a server and submitted an order. 30 minutes later, the food arrived cold and burned. We requested a replacement, and 25 minutes later, the replacement order arrived, but it was missing the protein we requested. When I explained this error to the server, he responded, “you know, most people here are just drinking.” At this point, we were no longer feeling ignored; now we felt disrespected. The staff was disinterested, and the quality of the service they provided matched this sentiment.

Believe me when I say, you can only be in one place at a time. Hard as you try, you can only be engaged in 1 breath, 1 thought, 1 conversation.

Each person has responsibilities, with expectations to match. But we all have a responsibility to do what is best for us; that includes communicating challenges as they arise. It takes personal conviction and skill to provide feedback to employers – to say that another style would improve operations for specific reasons. It also takes skill and patience to set those frustrations aside when facing customers and provide the best experience we can, given the circumstances.

Because we can only be engaged in 1 breath, 1 thought and 1 conversation, we can only handle one moment at a time. Realize that the choice is yours, whether to give that moment to yourself: taking a pause; drinking some water; gazing at the sun. And it’s also your choice to give that moment to someone else: having a conversation with your employer; speaking with a frustrated employee; working with a customer.