I have one significant flaw as a server. Well there is more than one, but one that is the standout among the flaws. I have no ability to hide an emotion on my face. Sure I can pretend to be happy if I am having a bad day, but in the instant you say something stupid to me my facial expression will let you know exactly what I am thinking. This may not be the most fatal flaw in the world, but it has gotten me into trouble a time or two.
It seems to translate in manager’s minds to, “he needs to smile more.” I have gotten this lecture numerous times. The fact is that I don’t smile in my day to day life. This doesn’t mean that I am sad or upset. My default facial expression is just not a smile. In nearly any other business this would not be an issue. I can’t imagine accountants getting in trouble for not smiling as they do… ummm whatever it is that accountants do.
I compensate for this using the “Michael Technique.” It is named for a restaurant manager I used to work with. One day I was discussing with a friend the fact that a mutual friend’s boyfriend had said, “I love you” for the first time. Michael happened to be standing behind the bar. I asked him if he thought if a guy told a girl he loved her that he had an ulterior motive. I will never forget his response:
“I tell my wife I love her maybe once or twice a year. I never understood why people just say it all the time. I mean when I tell her she starts crying and gets all lovey dovey on me. You gotta save that for special occasions. When I say it she knows I mean it.”
This is how I feel about smiling. I don’t smile all the time, but I do make it a point to smile at every table. When I do it, they know I mean it.