If You Want to Learn How Someone Communicates, Watch How She Orders

One of my behavioral goals for 2012 has been to ask more people out to eat. While I’ve always been a pretty social creature, it doesn’t take much for me to stay in my comfort zone and dine with the same handful of friends, family members, and professional colleagues. But of course, that’s just not how new business relationships get forged. Nor is it a great recipe for letting myself be “bumped” by others.

I’ve learned how to recognize a lot about the people I’m getting to know from watching how they order their food. (After all, while context plays a role in our interpersonal communication, for the most part we carry our habits forth from one life sphere into the next.) Here are a number of ways I’ve noticed people order their food.

1. What are you getting? [The other person/party responds] That sounds good. I guess I’ll get the same.

2. Nothing is really jumping out to me. 

3. I just can’t make up my mind. Oh, I don’t know. What should I get?

4. Do you want to share something? I don’t have much of an appetite.

And finally, in precious few cases, someone will order like this.

5. I’ll take #3. Thank you.

6. Both #3 and #6 look divine. Would it be possible to take the spinach, tomato, and cucumber from #3 and thow in the feta, cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette from #6? You would make my day!

Then, once the food arrives, many of us will say:

7. This _____ isn’t exactly what I wanted. Could you _____?

If you want to be a more heart-centered, high-impact communicator, one of the easiest place to develop the behavior is in ordering your food. While it would be easy to write off ordering as an individual act, throwaway conversation, it’s not. If you repeatedly change your mind after you hear what others are eating, I guarantee you are waffling in your everyday conversation. If nothing on a menu ever makes you happy, chances are you’re projecting the glass is half-empty worldview each time you open your mouth. If you can’t make up your mind or don’t have enough of an appetite…. well, you get the drill.

And if you’re that person who repeatedly sends food back, while you could easily trick yourself into believing you simply are assertive or uphold high expectations, chances are you also have a hard time being happy in the here and now. You most likely are always on the hunt for a new job or a new business venture. You believe that if your boss were a little different, your work more engaging, or your product or service more compelling, then you would feel differently.

The way you communicate shapes your reality. Big time! It’s hard for a lot of us to look at a situation, identify exactly what we want, and communicate it succinctly. And that’s okay. But we can do a lot more of #6. We can practice seeing the possibilities in each of the situations before us, seek to combine them in a way that feels good, and communicate our desires kindly.

The next time you order, how do you want to communicate with yourself, with your fellow diners, and with your server?

How can this be the foundation for how you want to communicate in all areas of your life?


Now, I am very excited to announce that the Priority Registration site for Moxie Camp 2012 is now live. If you are a woman looking to build a movement around your ideas and create positive social change through your career or business, you definitely want to get on this list. It will ensure that you are first in line when the full, beautiful site is launched and tickets are released. (And if you’ve got questions about Moxie Camp 2012, email my team at Info@AlexiaVernon.com.)

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Alexia ~
    I worked in the hospitality biz for a couple decades – and if I may be so bold – believe that I am an expert on people because of it! :)
    I’ve seen marriages disintegrate, engagements be born, business deals brokered, and all sorts of other beginnings and endings. Everything happens at the table. I can tell in one minute how something will work out for someone, based on how they conduct themselves in a restaurant. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment!
    Really liked this post – it sends out an awareness to people to pay attention to how they act ALL the time, not just when they think it’s important.

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