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I’m sure we have all experienced the following: You go to a restaurant. You sit down for what you hope will be a pleasant meal by yourself, with your significant other, your family, your friends, etc.

However, you get the opposite. You get poor service. The wait staff doesn’t listen to you. They are never around. When you try to talk to them, they seem to not care. Your drinks may stay unfilled. Your food may be wrong – and you have to give a lot of effort to fix it.

I remember one experience when I was with some of my foster kids, where we ordered an inexpensive meal for all of us with water – and, from the impression that I got, when the waitress saw that I wasnt a high dollar spender, the service I received went perceivably down.

But thankfully, there is the opposite as well.

What restaurants can teach us about relationships

Last weekend I was at Jekyll Island for a conference. After conference-ing and turning my legs to jello by running along the beach walkway for longer than my body wanted me to, I went and ate at a restaurant called Wee Pub.

Since I was by myself, I ended up sitting at the bar – and unintentionally chose a unique spot: I was directly beside where they placed the drinks and where the staff gathered at times for a quick chat, to put the food orders in, etc.

Now, 99% of the time when I go to a restaurant, I order water. And for some restaurants, if your sitting in the bar area, and all you order is water, you are going to receive a lot less attention.

But not at Wee Pub. In fact, there were at least 3 specific behaviors I noticed from the staff that showed great people skills, and, if we applied them personally in our own lives, would greatly increase the quality of the relationships we have. People would like us more, respect us more, and want to be around us more. What did they do?

1. They learned my name

Names have power. When you call someone by their name, it makes them feel important. People like to be called by their names.

There were two servers at the bar, Miranda and Kaden, and as soon as I ordered, one of them asked me for my name. And from that point on, every time they interacted with me, delivered my food, asked a question – they both always used my name.

One of the best things you can do to make people think more highly of you and respect you is to remember and use their name. When you make someone else feel important by using their name, they reciprocate that feeling toward you and think more highly of you.

Use people’s names.

2. When I talked, they truly listened

Sometimes when we have conversations, even with our friends, it seems like they really don’t want to hear what we are saying. They may be looking elsewhere, talk over us, or just seem uninterested.

What was neat with my servers – if I asked or said anything to them, even if it was unrelated at all to food or eating or anything to do with my meal or drink, they would stop everything, wait and listen, and then take time to respond. It didn’t matter that they had other things that they needed to be doing – they took the time to listen. And they didnt seem annoyed at all. They didn’t seem rushed. They actually gave the impression that they really cared.

I also noticed a time when another person down the bar asked one of the servers a random question. The server actually stopped the manager who was telling him something (she didn’t hear the question), asked her the question and for her thoughts on it, and they fully answered the man before focusing on anything else.

If you use better listening skills in your conversations with people, you will greatly increase other people’s opinion about you. When people are talking – truly listen. Don’t talk over them. Look at them while they are speaking. Don’t worry about what you are going to say next. Just listen, and after they stop, pause a couple seconds before responding.

Do this, and, trust me, your relationships will grow.

3. They were genuinely friendly

Sitting in my spot, I heard different conversations from the staff and was able to interact with a lot of them. What was neat was that, though I was not being served by any of them, they were all genuinely friendly.

There have been times in the past when I have felt that the friendliness given was really fake, or they even displayed annoyance, but each person I talked to smiled, was genuinely friendly, stopped and talked with me, and was very kind.

If you want to better your relationships with people and be more likeable, be friendly with everyone! Truly listen. Be kind. Smile at people (that’s huge!). Show genuine interest in what people have to say, even if you are busy.

If you do this, you will reap the rewards.

What improvement can you make?

Many of us want better relationships with people. We want to be likeable. We want people to want to talk with us.

If you follow these three lessons, I guarantee you better relationships: Remember and use people’s names, be a better listener, and be genuinely friendly and interested in people (and smile!).

Thanks for the great service the other night Wee Pub.

What is one specific area that you are going to work on to improve your relationships?

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