Monday, April 17, 2006

CEOs Say How You Treat a Waiter Can Predict a lot About Character

How many times have you been in a restaurant, and either someone you were with, or someone at another table was extremely rude to the waiter, but then was as nice as they could be to you or the other people at their table?

An article I read today on Yahoo! explores this situation in more detail. In the article, Fortune 500 CEO's reveal that how someone treats a waiter says more about their actual character than anything else. The rule also applies to busboys, doormen, hotel maids, and others in the service industry.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Whoever came up with the waiter observation "is bang spot on," says BMW North America President Tom Purves, a native of Scotland, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, who lives in New York City with his Norwegian wife, Hilde, and works for a German company. That makes him qualified to speak on different cultures, and he says the waiter theory is true everywhere.

The CEO who came up with it, or at least first wrote it down, is Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson. He wrote a booklet of 33 short leadership observations called Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management. Raytheon has given away 250,000 of the books.

Among those 33 rules is only one that Swanson says never fails: "A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person."
Swanson says he first noticed this in the 1970s when he was eating with a man who became "absolutely obnoxious" to a waiter because the restaurant did not stock a particular wine. "Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can turn the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they are interacting with," Swanson writes. "Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles."

The Waiter Rule also applies to the way people treat hotel maids, mailroom clerks, bellmen and security guards. Au Bon Pain co-founder Ron Shaich, now CEO of Panera Bread, says he was interviewing a candidate for general counsel in St. Louis. She was "sweet" to Shaich but turned "amazingly rude" to someone cleaning the tables, Shaich says. She didn't get the job.
Shaich says any time candidates are being considered for executive positions at Panera Bread, he asks his assistant, Laura Parisi, how they treated her, because some applicants are "pushy, self-absorbed and rude" to her before she transfers the call to him.

Just about every CEO has a waiter story to tell. Dave Gould, CEO of Witness Systems, experienced the rule firsthand when a waitress dumped a full glass of red wine on the expensive suit of another CEO during a contract negotiation. The victim CEO put her at ease with a joke about not having had time to shower that morning. A few days later, when there was an apparent impasse during negotiations, Gould trusted that CEO to have the character to work out any differences."

Personally, I could not agree more with the article. I believe it all starts at home. If you were taught good manners when you were young, then you are much more likely to be a nice person than someone who was never taught good manners and proper etiquette. My mother taught me from an early age to be considerate and polite to everyone. I wrote about how she treated others in this post from the end of last year.

To read the full article, please go to

Good luck today and make it a good one!

Click here to forward this story to a friend!


0 Responses to "CEOs Say How You Treat a Waiter Can Predict a lot About Character"
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Revolution Two Church theme by Brian Gardner | Blogger template converted & enhanced by eBlog Templates