The way somebody treats service staff actually says a lot more than you might imagine about their character and values.
The way a person acts to those of lower status or service workers tells you so much about who they really are deep inside.
And it’s about far more than just whether or not they’re polite to the waiter…
Here’s a look at what you can figure out about somebody’s personality and core values by how they act toward a waiter.
1) Their level of arrogance or humility
The first of the things you can tell from how somebody treats the waiter is their level of arrogance or humility in general.
A waiter’s job is to look after you and anyone you’re with and make sure you’re satisfied and getting the food and drinks you want.
As such, they have to adjust and be patient with customers of many different kinds, including clients who can be a bit rowdy and disrespectful.
Basically, somebody who wants to be a little snarky and rude with a waiter can generally do this without any consequences.
That’s why you get to see how someone behaves to somebody they think they can treat however they want.
Do they act superior to them and talk in a condescending tone of voice, or are they respectful and kind to the waiter, treating them as they would any other individual worthy of proper etiquette?
This behavior can tell you a lot.
2) Their level of generosity or stinginess
Next up of things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is how generous they are.
This can generally be seen in the tip and in how they respond to the pricing of the restaurant in general.
Do they complain and talk about the prices a lot or find excuses not to leave a decent tip?
In countries where tips are customary, I’ve also been out with people who will complain extensively about the service and food and then leave a tip anyway, only to complain much more about the tip after leaving it.
This type of passive aggressive behavior can certainly tell you a lot about someone.
3) Their way of dealing with problems and misunderstandings
The next of the important things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is how they handle conflict.
In the context of ordering drinks or food, a surprising amount of small problems can come up.
You know what I’m talking about:
- Late orders
- Mistaken orders
- Price disputes
- Feeling neglected by a waiter
- Feeling overly pressured to order by a waiter
And so on.
Dining and going out can be a complicated process! It can get a bit frustrating as well.
How somebody deals with this tells you a lot.
Do they take it out on the waiter, insulting and berating them? Or are they calm and kind about misunderstandings and problems?
Do they sit passively as problems occur and expect somebody else to fix it or do they communicate with the waiter and try to actively solve issues that are coming up?
This brings us to the next point…
4) Their method of communicating and giving feedback
One of the biggest things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is how they communicate.
Are they a direct communicator or indirect?
Are they shy and introverted or more loud spoken and extroverted?
Are they passive or more proactive in how they respond to a busy dining and hospitality environment?
Do they talk a lot to the waiter and make friends or treat him or her more or less as just there to serve?
If they especially like or dislike a dish does this person bring that up with the waiter or feel ashamed or embarrassed to do so?
All of this tells you a lot about them and their style of communication.
5) Their sense of humor and general social skills
The next of the things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is their general level of social skills and humor.
Does this person have a funny bone and an ability to network and make friends, or are they a bump on a log?
Waiters are basically paid to – at minimum – treat customers politely and give them what they want.
Granted, some waiters can be rude or give weird looks and be very negligent.
But assuming this waiter is behaving in a neutral or friendly way, you can see whether your dining companion or this other person basically makes any effort (or has any ability) to engage with the waiter.
Do they tell a joke and get the waiter laughing?
Do they ask about their life or about how the day’s going or make some kind of small talk that lubricates the interaction?
Or are they stiff, formal and sort of awkward around the waiter?
Do they wince when the waiter tries to tell a joke and generally show that they want to just get the order and get away from dealing with this blue collar guy or gal?
You can tell a lot by this kind of behavior!
6) Their cultural values toward workers and service staff
Every culture has a different relation to workers and service staff.
Nations like the United States have a history of somewhat more of a melting pot in terms of classes, whereas places like India, for example, have a more formal relationship between the upper and “lower” classes.
As such, one of the big things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is their cultural background and values.
Many times, a person may behave in a rather demanding, dismissive or demeaning way toward a waiter as a result of cultural and familial conditioning.
That’s just how you treat them in their view, and they were raised and surrounded by the idea that waiters are basically more obedient and helpful if you treat them quite coldly and strictly.
This is definitely a trend you often see among some in the upper classes of every country, for example, or among some celebrities, who will often ask a waiter’s name and then talk to them (intentionally or unintentionally) very condescendingly.
Imagine this scenario as a group of rich executives dine and drink at an upscale Chicago eatery:
Their waiter, James, has watched them get progressively drunker and pepper him with over the top compliments, mainly led by the apparent ringleader, a pink-faced man named Chuck.
“Wow, James, thanks chief, that last mojito was on fire, bro.”
“Glad you liked it, sir.”
James turns to go clean something up. Thirty seconds later:
“Hey, James my man, what do you think about getting us all another round?”
“For sure, coming right up.”
“Thank you, young man, you are a scholar and a gentleman.”
Another blond lady at the other end of the table gives an air high five.
“Three cheers for James! This guy is literally a superhero, right folks?”
James nods awkwardly, dodging $2,000 penny loafers and bloated middle aged smiles to go load up the tray with another round for the executive board of Dole Fruit company.
7) Their level of judgmentalness or openness
Waiters come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of appearances, styles, ways of speaking and personalities.
One of the big things you can figure out about someone by how they treat the waiter is how judgmental they are.
If the waiter has an odd sounding voice, does this person make fun of it or shrug it off?
If the waiter is a bit obese, does this person judge them?
If the waiter is nervous and socially awkward, does this individual use this as an opportunity to criticize or make fun of them?
Alternately, do they try to get to know the waiter more and reserve judgment even on a waiter who comes across a bit odd or isn’t their “type” of person?
This can tell you a lot about how judgmental somebody is and how tolerant or patient they are with people they don’t necessarily relate to or fit in with.
It tells you a lot about how accepting they are of others.
Last but not least…
Last but not least, let’s not forget that we can’t always overanalyze the meaning of somebody’s behavior toward service staff and waiters.
Sometimes a person acts a bit brusque or short for the very simple reason that they are extremely hungry.
More relaxed and convivial interactions often take place when we feel less hungry and able to chat and relate to the waiter in a calm atmosphere.
Being “hangry” (angry due to being hungry) doesn’t give anyone an excuse to be rude with waiters, but sometimes it really is the reason.
What that says about this person’s self-discipline and character is another matter, but it’s still definitely something that happens often.
Nonetheless, if you notice a pattern of behavior in how somebody treats wait staff it can definitely tell you a lot about what type of person they are in the rest of their life.