The Waitresses Guide For Connecting With Teenagers

I was reminded of an old psychology study the other night by a waitress who served my wife and I when we were at dinner.  Not that the waitress said anything about the study, but what she did do was kneel down next to where we were sitting resting her arms on our table. By doing so she was able to make direct eye contact with us.  It was this act that reminded me of the American study which showed that waitresses who made direct eye contact while at the same level as their customers received significantly more tips than waitresses who stood above their seated customers.

If you think about it this makes perfect sense.  When someone makes the effort to demonstrate that they are interested and listening to us we are more receptive to them and grateful for how they treat us. We would all rather have someone connect with us at our own level rather than be looked down upon.  In this regard teenagers are no different.This got me to thinking that there is probably a few things that good waitresses do that could be applied to building effective realtionships with teenagers. What follows is my waitresses guide to relating to teenagers.

Good Waitresses Demonstrate They Are Listening

Teenagers will respond better to adults who make an effort to show that they are intersted and listening. Just as the waitresses who get down to their customers level are likely to receive more tips, adults who go a bit further to really show that they are interested and listening to a teen are more likely to receive the gift of meaningful dialogue with the teenager.

Good Waitresses Remember Your Order

Have you, or your order, ever been forgotten in a restaraunt by the wiatress or the cook.  It has happened to me on a few occasions,and while it is not a big deal I have to say it doesn’t make me feel like a valuable customer.  Conversely you may have had the experience of being so well remembered that the waitress approaches and asks if you would like your usual – this is a completely opposite experience of feeling valued and belonging.

It is such simple thing to do, but it can make a big difference when we don’t – remember what teenagers say! When adults demonstrate that not only have they listened, but have cared enough to remember what has been said in the past, teenagers experience a sense of being valued and treated like they matter.

Good Waitresses Follow Through

Keeping your word is a practice that generates respect and good will in most arenas of life.  In a restaurant customers expect that when a waitress says she will “find out from the kitchen” or “be right back with those drinks” then that is what she will do. If she was to fail to do so then the customer experience would be tarnished and their willingness to make a return visit diminished.

When adults commit to doing things for teenagers it is even more important that they follow through.  It can be easy to forget how much teenagers value spending time and doing things with adults, or how important the tasks they entrust to adults are.  Repeated failure by adults to follow through on commitments made to teenagers will inevitably result in resentment and loss of trust.

Good Waitresses Go The Extra Mile

We went to take away from one of our favourite Thai restaurant’s recently.  Even though we were only there to get take away the waitress insisted we sit at one of the tables to wait, she brought us out glasses of water, mints, and newspapers and magazines for us to read while we were waiting – for all of 10 minutes it took for our order to be ready. Needless to say this experience reinforced our already very positive view of this place and means we are likely to choose to eat there more often and also recommend it to others.

Adults often think, and for good reason, that teenagers are ungrateful at the best of times and the idea of doing more for them would just go un-noticed. This may be true in some ways, but there are ways of going above and beyond that can make the world of difference. Words of encouragement and praise are nearly always appreciated. Choosing to praise a teenager at times other than when they have just achieved something can be particularly powerful for an adolescent. Knowing that you think highly of, and value them, means a teenager is far more likely to want to be around you and connect with you.

So there you have it, the waitresses guide to connecting with teenagers. I realise it is really a post about being considerate and making an effort, but the waitress analogy means we are all more likely to pay attention to the simple, but important, aspects of good relating.

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