A message to wait staff everywhere: when a customer asks for help with a meal order, be decisive.
Recently, I strolled into a new Indian restaurant in Phoenix. The food was strong, the service was attentive and the experience was enjoyable…sans a two minute stretch in which the woman serving my table struggled to make a recommendation. She didn’t want to be on the hook.
Her: They’re both great (big smile splashed across her face)
Okay, not what I love to hear, but I’d been here (in life) countless times before. I knew how to get her there.
The outcome of this experiment was excellent. I crushed a variety of flavors, spices and textures. But as much as I want it to be, this post isn’t about Indian food. It’s about how to be an expert.
When I walk into an accountant’s office, I don’t want him to give me choices. I went to Moorpark Community College, and I am still as far from a degree as I was the day I enrolled. My C in Latin American History isn’t going to help me decide how many dependents to claim. I want him to decide, and that’s why I want to work with him.
Okay, so maybe math and numbers aren’t analogous with food. Maybe design works better.
A friend of mine helped me decorate my bedroom. She asked some questions to help guide her decisions, then she took the fuck over. She called the shots, she never wavered, and she never said “option A or option B?” She designs bedrooms, I run sprints. When she wants a workout program, I won’t say, “do you want to do yoga or lift weights?” I’ll just make the decision that I believe makes the most sense.
When I enter a restaurant, I usually want the expert to choose. I establish that I have an experienced, very adventurous palate. “I eat everything, please have the chef prepare what he/she kicks ass at.”We, as human beings, respond to those with authority. Some of this is social conditioning – our lives begin by following directions from our parents and other adults as we navigate through our early years. But more importantly, it boils down to efficiency. Life is filled with moments in which we need to make good decisions, often quickly. I don’t have all the necessary information at my fingertips, so I want to work with someone that does. From a 2013 study by Deck and Jahedi:
The effect of cognitive load on economic decision making is that people tend to become increasingly risk averse under conditions of high cognitive load.
Collectively, these results suggest that choosers may experience frustration with complex choice-making processes.Also, that dissatisfaction with their choices – stemming from greater feelings of responsibility for the choices they make, may lead to a lower willingness to commit to one choice.
The more choosers perceive their choice-making task to necessitate expert information, the more they may be inclined not to choose at all.
That was definitely not the case for me and food. But it might be when my familiarity is weaker.
We cannot be experts in everything, and it would be foolish to try. But in the cases where you are the novice, seek out the expert. And when you’re the exert, make a decisive recommendation. You’ll be respected and appreciated as a result.