Hope, and Change

“I hope you had a great meal.”

Was he serious?

We had just finished paying over $400 for dinner for eight at a once great Charleston restaurant and not once had the manager stopped by our table. He never engaged us in conversation, he didn’t offer any wine recommendations, and there was no explanation of the evening’s specials other than a point to the chalk board on the wall.  He didn’t enlighten us as to why their menu hadn’t changed in twenty years. He never explained the odd salad of California greens, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries when we were in the middle of Charleston’s growing season. He offered no defense of the gummy Key Lime Pie or the frozen lima beans that were offered up as the local vegetable of the evening.

He did walk through his half empty (on a Saturday night, no less) dining room numerous times and he did smile at us, yet he never engaged us.

Until we had paid the check and were scooting back in our chairs.

“I hope you had a great meal.”



When was the last time you took a Friday afternoon detour to your supervisor’s office and asked, “I hope I did a great job this week”?

I would hope never.

Many years ago I learned never to ask a diner at the end of a meal if they enjoyed themselves. Because what if they said a sincere “No, I really didn’t.” They’re finished dining, they’ve paid the bill and only then you find out they’re unhappy. What can you do? Not much. The appropriate thing to say at the end of a meal is “Thank you for coming in.”

A polished server or manager can sense when a group is enjoying themselves and doesn’t have to pander, search for validity or a compliment.  And if someone isn’t enjoying themselves or is puzzled by a certain dish or disappointed by a slice of pie, that disappointment is most likely written all over their body language. At that point it’s time to ask a direct question; “Is your steak cooked the way you prefer? How are those lima beans? Are you enjoying that slice of Key Lime Pie?”

The same goes for anyone working in a team environment; you should know you’ve gotten the job done without having to resort to broad, tactless questions. When the time comes for a review or counseling session, you better know the outcome before you sit down with your team leader.  So take the guess work out of your performance by paying attention and getting the dang job done in a timely and professional manner.

Let’s leave the hope out of it.

Now about that pie.