Communicating the Wrong Message

Posted By on August 15th

Another example that perception is everything when communicating.

I recently decided to try a new deli near my office. I entered the restaurant, which was really a take-out place. There were no tables to sit at. Just a small waiting area with coffee pots, a soda machine, and give-away newspapers.

I waited for an employee to enter from the back room, while two ladies chatted in line in front of me. A gentleman emerged through the swinging door with the ladies’ orders. As he walked behind the counter towards the cash register, I noticed his t-shirt was soaked with sweat across the shoulders, and his forehead and hair were wet as well. He reached down to a towel hanging from his belt, and he mopped his face, head, and neck with it. He then proceeded to handle money and touch the cash register… sans gloves.

Now I know that things go on in kitchen restaurants that I don’t want to hear about. I also freely admit that because I don’t clean my kitchen at home daily, it’s not the most sterile environment. When I walk into a restaurant, however, I want you to keep me in the dark about any health conditions. I’m just fine knowing that I’m ignorant about what the kitchen staff is doing while in the back. Don’t communicate to me the reality if you want me as a customer.

This is the lasting communication: I now have a vision of this guy sweating into the food while he’s preparing it with his dirty, unwashed hands. Perception is everything, and I can’t get the vision out of my mind of this guy mopping his sweaty head. Not the message he wanted to communicate to me, I’m sure. I don’t intend to eat at this restaurant again.

What message are you unknowingly communicating to the people you come in contact with?

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.

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