It's no mystery to any of us who have worked in the service industry that it's not always so easy to come to work and provide service with a smile. Like those who work office or manual labor jobs, there are going to be those days when going to work is a real drag. The difference between us and them, however, is that our pay depends on the smile and hospitality we provide. We don't have that comfort of a cushy hourly pay to rely on.
In addition, many of us go to work with the greatest of attitudes, only to be dragged down by those jerk customers who decide to take their frustrations out on us. Smiles turn to scowls and it's hard not to look at each new table, or customer at the bar, as another potential jerk. Over several years of these types of obstacles (among others), I have developed my own way for coping with the strain of the hospitality industry. Here are some ideas you can try to help keep that smile on and maximize that monetary compensation.
1. Be An Actor
That's right, play the part. We do this anyway on a daily basis. It's just harder to do when we are in a bad mood. I find that when I'm not feeling it, the best way to shake the feeling is to fake it until you make it. Act like the employee of the year who's a pro at laying on the cheesiness. Yes, I said cheesiness. Of course you don't want to make it obvious to your customers that you are layering on the cheese. But doing it just enough will make you laugh at yourself and get yourself into the groove so it's not so hard to fake the smile.
2. Maintain Your Professionalism
So faking it doesn't always work. But having a crappy attitude works even less. Not only do you risk getting customer complaints, but the worst that can happen is the customer will just decide not to come back. Think about how frustrating it is when you get a chance to go out and the server or bartender is completely rude and inattentive. Even if the food is great, the service leaves a bad taste and can even come across as personal. If you can't get yourself to produce fake it, then just make it. You still need to smile and establish eye contact. Make the service clean and concise, but don't let them see you're in a bad mood. Even if they are.
3. Kill Them With Kindness
Nothing is harder to overcome than a bad mood either produced or added to by a cranky, difficult customer. Human instinct always leans towards the defense, but when you're in the service industry it's just not an option. Hold your tongue, mumble under your breath in the back of the house, and make sure your manager is made aware of the situation. Next, you have to give yourself a moment to take a breath and tell yourself that it's not personal. In fact, you should probably feel sorry for this person who is so miserable they have to make others miserable too. Once you get your mind straight, the only thing you can do is kill them with kindness. Even if they're being down right rude, politely ask what you can do to make them happy. Usually they're so miserable there's no answer, but you can hold your head high in knowing you are a better person for not stooping to their level.
4. Wipe The Slate Clean With Each New Customer
Remember that each new table or patrons at the bar are not always going to be the same as the person before them. Always initiate service with a smile and greeting. You never know who you're waiting on. If you're in a bad mood because of outside-of-work factors, or because the customers before were jerks, these may be the people who turn the whole night around for you. If you start of the service with a crap attitude, it'll rub off on the customers and hence the cycle repeats.
5. Vent When Appropriate
Get it off of your chest. This doesn't mean do it on the floor, behind the bar, or even in the back of the house where customers can still hear you. Go into the walk-in cooler, step outside, or better yet come here. Obviously you'll want to leave the names and details of the customers out for job security. But who better to vent to than others in the industry. WE ALL KNOW HOW FRUSTRATING THIS INDUSTRY CAN BE. People are jerks, idiots, and often times both. But we still have to take care of them. Sharing stories is a way to not feel so alone and be able to step into a new day with a smile on your face.