It's too bad that there should be several links in this, but I don't know how to do that. Anyway, do you and your coworkers ever go to any bars after work? Yeah, I thought so. Us too. Ya know that bar that has that same decent but not-all-that-great cover band playing almost everytime y'all go there? Just imagine that one night you show up and instead of their usual guitar player, they've got...Bruce Springsteen! This is a guest post, so it's kind of like that. I'm proud and honored to have the opportunity to serve it to ya. Enjoy!
Public Policy Polling is one of those companies that calls up a random sampling of folks and asks them if they approve or disapprove of the President, Congress, etc. Recently they did a poll I found interesting. They called up a large number of Americans and asked if they approved or disapproved of the job God was doing. Only 52% of people polled approved of the job he was doing. When reached for comment, God had this to say:
"52%. You think this stuff is easy? I made two of you and now I have 6 billion of you whining to me nonstop. You all thought you were hot stuff when you cloned a sheep. Big Deal. I invented sheep. When was the last time any of you performed a miracle? The miracle on ice? Whoopdeedoo, I invented ice. The only time anyone thanks me is when they win an award. Don't thank me for your crappy movie. The last movie I liked was Good Will Hunting. I swear to me that if my approval rating drops below 50% you are all on your own. How do you like dem apples. Oh yeah, you all like apples a lot."
Good thing God doesn't have a Yelp! page.
The point I am trying to make here is that everyone has their critics. There is something about restaurant people that lead us to take the criticism to heart. The same tendencies that make someone successful in this industry also make them sensitive to those who critique them. I fall into this trap far too often. I dread the table that comes in and complains about my service. I might defend myself to the fullest against every complaint letter, but afterwards I really take it to heart. I am fortunate to know that I am not alone.
My blogs and book have given me the opportunity to speak as a peer with some of the top people in the industry in my city. They all remember the negative letters. I had one of the top chefs in my city detail several of his to me recently. I consider this man nothing short of a culinary genius. He created the greatest meal I have ever put in my mouth. Yet some anonymous online comments made him question his talents. I spoke with the General Manager of one of the premier restaurants in the city who could quote verbatim her most recent negative Yelp! review.
I have forced myself to stop reading the reviews for my restaurant. I can't look my guests in the eye the same way after reading them. There is no context to the reviews. They have no idea of the circumstances behind the things they complain about. They just complain to anyone who will listen without providing the opportunity for response or defense.
The sad part is that we take it all to heart. The Chef I mentioned was a James Beard Award Winner, but someone who typically dines on Chef Boyardee™ is allowed to critique him. The General Manager I mentioned runs a restaurant that does over $6 million a year in sales, but someone who wandered in with a Groupon™ can make her doubt herself. I was voted the best server in my city last year, but someone who has never strapped on an apron can tell me how to do my job.
It is part of the business. We cannot stop the people who criticize us. That is their right. We can choose how we respond to it though. We can trust that as professionals we know more about how to do our jobs well than they do. We can build on criticism or we can let it tear us down. As for me, my approval rating isn't 100%, but that puts me in some solid company.