Diners Misbehaving at Dinner


As I prepare to teach an etiquette course to servers at an upscale restaurant, I’ve been knee-deep in dining etiquette. I have a renewed appreciation for servers of the world because, quite honestly, we diners are not always the best mannered.

And yes, although servers could always use a bit of dining awareness, the stories of REALLY rude diners are plentiful! I see the makings of a reality TV show after reading the blogs and submissions from servernightmares.com, dinnersfromhell.com, thebitterwaiter.com and stuckserving.com. Look out Honey Boo-Boo Child! You’ve got nothing on the ghastly dining behaviors I’ve been reading about!

Here are a few reminders for when you venture out to eat next time.

Servers are people too.

They like to be spoken to with kindness and respect. Just like you. You don’t own them.

Discretion is always appreciated.

Fly in your soup? Hair in your penne?  I know. TOTALLY gross. Most likely it wasn’t placed there intentionally (unless of course you were rude to the server). No need to scream and gross out your fellow diners. Simply call the server over, discretely and quietly explain the foreign object.  It should be taken care of it immediately.

Don’t shoot the messenger

Often what happens in a restaurant might be out of the control of your server. The kitchen might be short-staffed and the food is coming out slowly. No excuses. Understanding is needed. Short from jumping behind the food line, your server is also a victim to the delays. Hopefully you have received prompt checking and status updates from your server on the food’s progress.

If you’re feeling the need to SCREAM at someone, please stay home.

Why do certain individuals feel such catastrophic injustice if their steak is brought to them not cooked properly?

Why do certain individuals feel the need to treat a server rudely because they had a rough day?

Anger management counseling is available. Just don’t flex your rudeness muscles at someone who is trying to serve you a meal.

Server first. Manager second.

If your dining experience is not up to par and you’ve attempted to handle the situation with your server with no success, then by all means, speak with the manager. You shouldn’t have to pay for poor service.

There are plenty of examples of bad service out there. Lots of magic words should be spoken on both sides of the server/patron dialogue. I know, not necessarily a reality. But….dining out most often can be a polite and congenial exchange between server and diners. Will you please hold up your end of the exchange?


Mind Your Manners,



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