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Waitressing & Communication Skills

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French playwright, novelist and screenwriter Jean Paul Sartre was revising his draft of Being and Nothingness in a French café. Sartre said to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” Without missing a beat, the witty waitress replied, “I’m sorry, monsieur, but we’re all out of cream. How about with no milk?” Clearly, waitresses who possess good verbal skills and a sense of humor stand out.

Memorize the Menu

Possess a complete understanding of the product. The customer may have questions about menu items so the wait staff should know the items and specials. Customers are turned off by waitresses who are unfamiliar with selections. Patrons often expect recommendations, so also keeping track of the most popular and famous dishes communicates a helpful attitude. Failing to communicate to patrons in a clear and concise manner leads to smaller tips, according to Tip Top Waiter.

Check Back

Maintain a close eye on customers and check back often to ensure they are enjoying their meals. Customers feel valued and the lines of communication remain open as they ask you for what they need. The key is not to pester, but verbalize you are available if they need something. Anticipating the customers' needs also improves their experiences. Fill drinks before the glasses go empty and clean tables so dirty dishes aren't left in the way.

Don’t Ignore

It is never acceptable to ignore patrons whether in your section or not. Ask for patience while tending to each table if you become swamped. Keeping a dialogue and using good communication skills helps gain more patience from most customers. If the food is taking too long, politely let people know it will be a few minutes longer, rather than avoiding them.

Keep a Sense of Humor

Joking and coming off lighthearted are other good verbal tools. Only poke fun when appropriate so you don't offend any patrons. Most customers respond better to a smiling and communicative waitress. Ensure the jokes are light and not offensive or demeaning to anyone. Poking fun at oneself can often help lighten a tense mood. Laughing at customer jokes doesn’t hurt either as long as they are appropriate and not offensive or at someone else's expense.


Rose Smith has been writing professionally since 1992. Her how-to and relationship articles have appeared in "Family Circle" and several other national publications. She has also written the books "Sizzling Monogamy" and "101 Ways to Date Your Mate." Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Illinois State University.

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