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Double Whammy – Double Dammy!

Furious ChefOf all the things we do to others, the one that causes me and the unfortunate recipient the most distress is what I call the Double Whammy – Double Dammy!

So: parents, teachers, managers, supervisors, trainers take note! In fact anyone, charged with the responsibility for giving feedback in any context where meaningful relationships are key, please read the following short, true and thought-provoking story that happened to me recently.

Being more sensitive in situations like the following demonstrates your personal emotional intelligence, builds the relationship and positively improves that person’s productivity. And let’s face it, that’s what we want.

Sitting at a table with a dear friend, and not having had pasta for some time, I was looking forward to a dish I’d deliberately selected. We chatted together, drank our wine and in due course our meals arrived at our table delivered by a young, self-conscious and outwardly anxious waitress. It was obvious that she was extremely nervous and hadn’t been in the role long.

Mine certainly looked as if it was the one I ordered – a lot of pasta dishes do look similar after all don’t they? So did my friend’s. We both started to eat our meals, chatting and drinking. After a minute or two we be came aware of the confused and increasingly irritated expressions from two diners at the adjoining table, who’d clearly ordered before us.

Five minutes into eating our meal it became apparent to all of us in our corner of the restaurant that we were eating our fellow diners’ lunch.

If you’re a people person like me, you’ll be with me in spirit. One of the diners must have complained very strongly as within minutes the manager appeared. Clearly rattled she apologised profusely then disappeared with the young, and by now acutely embarrassed, young waitress.

Another waitress appeared in due course with the correct meals for the irritated diners. We learned that Chef had said, in no uncertain words, how ‘unhappy’ he was with the young waitresses’ performance. Actually, we happened to hear – as he went ballistic! My friend noticed the young girl doing her best to hide her tear-stained face behind the till. She had certainly had a ‘telling off’ from Chef.

Now, you may be thinking “Rightly deserved!” But here’s the thing. Do we really think that this young waitress wasn’t bothered? That she was so completely uncaring, indifferent and irresponsible about her role she would deliberately risk the wrath of clients and the Chef in particular, that she would deliberately mix up the dishes?

I suggest that in her value system ‘doing well’ was important to her. I suggest happy diners who gave her genuinely appreciative feedback would really make her day. I also suggest that she was already churned up inside having let herself and everyone else down.

So why give her a ‘bloody nose’ when she was already reeling from the first punch? Doesn’t make sense to me. Rather assume good intent, express disappointment but don’t go ballistic and give some practical tips to avoid a repeat in future. Perhaps a notepad, a technique for taking notes, her own personalised codes perhaps to remember tables and clients…

As you ponder; have you ever had feedback that hurt?  Most people are already ‘mortified’ at their own ineptitude.

So before you share your thoughts please stop!. Sense people’s feelings before you speak and avoid doing unnecessary damage. Only a few people need a machete between the eyes to get the message!

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