Last night one of my best friends and I decided to go out to dinner. We enjoyed a wonderful meal filled with delicious food, palate-pleasing wine, snazzy clothes, and more laughing and smiling and general merriment than you’d think could be packed into 90 minutes.
But at one point, it also included tears. Well, close-to-tears let’s say. I’m not sure any tear actually broke the plane of the eyelid and slid down the cheek, but they certainly welled up for a moment, threatening to leave a streak of sadness down the side of my dear friend’s face.
And for once, the close-to-tears had nothing to do with me telling a bad and/or corny joke. (Ba-dum-ching!)
No, the close-to-tears were brought on my friend’s story of a rather nasty Yelp review about her work as a server.
The lady who left the review, who I shall henceforth refer to as Cruella de Vil (because I imagine that this woman probably is the type who hates puppies), apparently did not care for my friend’s service. This didn’t really compute with me.
If you knew the friend I’m talking about, you’d know that her cheerful and spritely way of being make it quite impossible to gain a negative impression of her. Of course, having been a server myself once, I also know that everyone can have a bad day, or just a bad table, and so perhaps this explained Cruella’s malformed impression of my friend.
But my friend said No, there was nothing abnormal about the service. Cruella apparently just didn’t like her, which I can only attribute to a) Cruella’s general puppy-hating heart of blackness or b) Cruella simply having a bad day or c) Cruella having outlandish expectations for food service. Or perhaps all three.
Regardless of the reason, Cruella felt compelled to make her disdain for my friend’s service public. And her public disdain greatly saddened my friend. My friend told me that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it for two days, hating the knowledge that someone out there thought negatively of her and her work, especially with no good reason for it.
Me, being the ENTHUSIASTIC GUY that I am (or so my Friends-loving girlfriend tells me), immediately wanted to wad up all the sadness and negative feelings I saw manifested in those close-to-tears in my friend’s eyes, toss them many much miles away in the distance, and find some happy, positive thoughts to cling to. This was a happy dinner, damnit! BRING BACK THE SMILES!
So I informed my friend that this one terrible, erroneous, misguided review by Cruella the jerkface beeyatch, which was not countered by any positive reviews also calling my friend out by name, was a woeful misrepresentation of the truth. Because if everyone who’d had terrific service from my friend had written a review, Cruella’s would be outnumbered something like 6 bazillion to 1.
But therein lies the problem: none of those 6 bazillion pleased customers chose to take the initiative and leave their positive thoughts. Just the one negative person.
And frankly, that sucks. But you see it often, especially in restaurants. More people seem compelled to make their feelings known when they are upset with something than when they are pleased. I suppose that does make some sense, since the expectation is for service to be good, thus bad service will stand out more than good service.
Still though, couldn’t we all do a better job of stopping every now and then to acknowledge when something – especially in a customer service realm – is really good? I think so. Well, I know that I could personally. And my friend agreed.
We talked about how often we’d had good or even great service at a restaurant but never went to Yelp to leave a review. Yet seeing how much that one negative review hurt my friend’s feelings, and how much a positive review would have lifted her spirits, I realized what an opportunity there was to brighten someone’s day with just a few minutes of work.
So she and I committed to start leaving more positive reviews when we have great experiences at restaurants. And to call servers or managers out by name, where appropriate. I actually started just before writing this post, authoring this Yelp review of Seasons 52.
But why stop with just us? I’ll throw it out there as a suggestion for everyone.
The next time you have a great experience at a restaurant, take a few minutes to leave the server a kind note on the bill. Or tell the manager. Or write a Yelp review.
Of course, do the same if you really do have a bad experience (though not if you’re just having a bad day, like Cruella; keep that to yourself). The point here is not to say that bad reviews shouldn’t be left. If they are honest and accurate, they should be.
But when has more positivity ever been a bad thing?
You know that you feel great inside when someone takes notice of good work you do and recognizes you for it. So pay that feeling forward to someone else.
Who knows, you just might replace close-to-tears (or even actual tears) with smiles and a warmed heart. And when you have that opportunity, you always have to take it.