8 Life Lessons I Learned While Waitressing

Photo of the waitstaff during the sixties at a hotel we were at for a wedding this weekend
Last weekend marked my last night serving at the restaurant I've been working at since we moved here two and a half years ago. After nearly ten years spent in and out of restaurants wherever I've lived, I really feel I learned so many valuable skills and life lessons from each position I held. And let me tell you, there have been a lot of them. I have managed, assistant-managed, supervised, bussed, served, and bartended. The one position I managed to avoid was hosting, because that just seemed like too much of a pain in the butt. But through each of these positions I learned something different that I carry with me today as I jump into the wild ride of building my business full time. I wanted to write them down while they were still fresh in my mind, so here we go-

8 Life Lessons I Learned While Waitressing

1. How to be part of a team
This is an obvious one. At most other jobs you will be part of a team, and probably will be working very closely with at least a couple people on your team regularly. At a restaurant you are PART of the team, meaning that without you the team will flounder and fail quickly. It makes you realize the importance of helping others, and how much more success you have yourself when you do.

2. How to be self-sufficient
On the other (contrary) hand, at a restaurant you learn that it is also up to you and you alone to get through certain situations, and that you have to be able to handle it. You learn to deal with situations without having to run to someone else to help every time.

3. How to handle any and all personality types
This one is huge. You can and you will have to deal with every personality type under the sun. That may be a three year old who spills her chocolate milk you just gave her and screams through the entire place, a customer who feels the need to create their own dish not on the menu every time they come in, the guy who makes terrible jokes you have to muster a laugh at, or the "VIP" table you have to give special attention to. You learn to be able to walk into any situation and be able to make small talk comfortably, which is so helpful in many life situations.

4. How to keep a "game face"
The scene - your name is being yelled in the kitchen because two of your tables' meals are up and need to be run to them. Someone at another waitresses table is aggressively flagging you down for a refill of Diet Pepsi. The table you are standing at taking their order has been debating whether to order calamari for five minutes, while you stand there with pen and pad in hand silently tapping your foot in frustration. But no one can tell, because you have your game face on. This one has been a hugely helpful skill to transition into real life, as a game face and keeping your cool can help you through many a sticky situation.

5. How to know your limits and speak up when you need to
The saying is "the customer is always right", but you find out quickly that can't always be the case. No matter what, you are going to have a jerk at your table every now and again, and you quickly learn to not let them get away with anything and everything. As a definite "people-pleaser" personality type, this has been a great lesson to learn for me.

6. How to multitask like a madwoman
You better bet I can hold a conversation and do four other things at the same time. Thank you, bartending experience.

7. How to communicate clearly and efficiently
Often times you do not have more than a second or two to relay a message to a fellow waitress or the kitchen staff on a busy night. The more concise and clear you are, the more likely the result you are looking for will come about, so you quickly learn to communicate efficiently. This has helped me a ton in my business and customer service communication.

8. That it is important to have fun at work too
As crazy as it can get in a restaurant, the staff can get super goofy as well, which makes for a fun time even in a high stress situation. If you can make a joke out of it or find the humor in a sticky situation, it makes it so much easier to get through it, leave it behind you and keep your priorities in line.


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