Do You Have Bullies in Your Dining Room?

Walk into many elementary school buildings these days and you’ll notice posters and banners advocating being a friend not a bully. It is best and easiest to change negative attitudes early in life, opening the minds of children to show kindness and friendliness. Children’s books are directed to guide them toward these same goals. But what do you do with those of a certain age who behave poorly, when they are living in retirement communities?

The dining room is the most important room in the community for friendliness. At its best, your elders will feel like they are coming into the warmth of their own dining room to share a mealtime with their own friends and guests. The hostess for any fancy gala greets each person as if they were a personal friend, even when she never met them before. She makes them feel wanted, comfortable, letting them know she is delighted that they are present. This is a learned effort that can be applied to training your food servers to have that same quality and attitude. When practiced it will come naturally and benefit every person in the dining room. This means other food servers, kitchen assistants who happen to wander in, staff who clean up afterward, and especially every resident who enters through the doors.

The best servers eye every table to be certain it is set properly. They take a second to pull a chair out for an elder. They watch each resident with gentleness, stepping in to redirect any sense of trouble arising at a table. She will recognize and call residents (and other staff) by name with a smile that tells everyone she is happy to be serving this group. The best part is that she means it!

She will notice when a person enters the dining room for the first time and guide her to a compatible table for her to sit at. She knows this because she is familiar with each face in the dining room. If this doesn’t sound possible, it is with Kind Dining® training. When servers automatically know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it; their minds are free to be pleasant, watchful, and helpful. When the stress of not knowing her responsibilities is removed, your food servers can move forward.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember, in a room full of people, even a newcomer doesn’t need to feel alone. 

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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