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10 Polite Habits That Restaurant Staffers Secretly Dislike

Sometimes our restaurant manners can miss the mark when we’re trying to do the right thing. Here’s what to avoid.

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Messy dining table and crockery after lunch by many people. No people, still life, table top image shot from top angle in natural light in a restaurant.Clovera/Shutterstock

They’re servers, not servants

You might think you’re being helpful, but the most helpful thing you can do is allow servers to do their job. And it’s their business to be accommodating, the very least you can do is not catch an attitude. It is their job to be polite, so if you’re being rude to someone who can’t be rude back, what are you really doing? Just being a bully? Human beings are thoughtful by nature! Don’t forget that just because someone’s waiting on you for the night. Make sure you also know about these polite habits that McDonald’s employees secretly dislike.

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Hospitable waitress taking an order from a couple in a rural restaurantIakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Seating yourself

When the hostess is busy, it can be tempting just to seat yourself and save her the trouble. This might seem like helping, but it might be making her job (and the servers’ jobs) more difficult. Hosts have a system for distributing tables that keep the restaurant running smoothly. If you see the host is busy when you arrive, wait a minute or two before hailing someone for attention. Don’t forget these other etiquette rules you should follow at a restaurant.

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Dirty dishes with cutlery on a brown wooden tableButus/Shutterstock

Stacking used plates at the table

Full disclosure: I did this all the time. I thought I was doing servers a favor, but it turns out it’s icky and inconvenient. Leave your plates as they are—your waiter has a system for clearing the table. While your server may not mind, your fellow diners would probably prefer you leave your elbows off the table, too.

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cheesecake and coffee. Can not finish the plate9Air/Shutterstock

Pushing plates away when you’re finished

Again, I’ve been guilty of this. It seemed like a good signal for the plates to be cleared, but it actually makes them harder to reach and clutters up the table for your companions. Leave them be—a good waiter will watch and ask you if you’re done. Don’t miss these other secrets your waiter isn’t telling you.

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Serious concentrated young waiter standing and taking an order from two bearded handsome men in cafeDean Drobot/Shutterstock

Ordering from another server

Your waiter looks swamped, so why not ask someone else for dessert or another appetizer? Because it can make things super confusing when they are trying to put together your bill. But you can politely ask another server to flag your waiter down.  Find out also the secrets the kitchen crew doesn’t want you to know.

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broken wine glass with bottle on wooden tablePaul_K/Shutterstock

Cleaning up after an accident

Oops—you knocked a glass of wine off the table and you want to minimize the trouble for the staff. While this is understandable, the last thing the staff wants is for you to pick up bits of glass. An apology is enough, then let them take care of it. Here are 13 things servers won’t eat at their own restaurants.

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Relaxed adults people having dinner and respectful waiterIakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Over-chatting with the hostess or server

Of course, we want to be friendly, but if the place is packed, consider keeping the personal questions to a minimum. A genuine smile and a good tip go a long way in making someone feel appreciated. Watch out for these signs that you’re actually too polite.

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Couple ordering dinner in a luxury restaurantMinerva Studio/Shutterstock

Ordering in a language you really don’t know

Your server would prefer you to order your meal as it’s listed on the menu. If you’re at a fancy Italian restaurant, they can certainly help you through the pronunciation of pasta fagioli al forno . However, if you see spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, don’t ask your waiter for spaghetti e polpette (the Italian translation). This will only make your order confusing.

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Waiter pouring mineral water from the glass bottle into a glass, food concept.barmalini/Shutterstock

Not “bothering” the staff

If you want some water or coffee, or your soup is cold, definitely let your server know. Better a polite request than a growing resentment and a small tip. Most servers really want to make sure your meal is wonderful, but they can’t read our minds.

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Waitress serving burgers to cheerful customers in restaurantwavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

“Helping” with a tray

When your server comes to the table with a tray full of drinks or food, it can look like quite the balancing act. While it’s tempting to want to relieve your waitress from some of the weight, please don’t! Servers are pros at balancing even the most precarious load, and if you try and “help” by grabbing that bread basket or glass, you might throw the whole tray off-kilter. You can help, though, by moving your glasses, phone or other belongings out of the way when your server puts down your plate. You can recover, though, by acknowledging these rude restaurant habits you need to stop ASAP.

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A businessman is paying his bill by credit card at the restaurant.Totsapon Phattaratharnwan/Shutterstock

Splitting the check at the end

Any server is more than happy to split a bill among a few friends. If you know you plan on dividing the expense, it’s best to let your server know at the beginning of the meal so they can keep track of whose dish is whose a bit easier. Yes, the check can be split at the end, but advance notice is always appreciated (and it can help speed up the process). These are the things that restaurant owners wish they could tell you.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home