Friday, October 23, 2015

The Flirting Theory


Does flirting get you better service, jobs, or even a better cut of beef? This discussion came up recently at work. Most believed they received benefits due to their flirting. It also comes down to what you define as flirting. I was raised to be civil, helpful and pleasant. If someone asks for the time or help in finding a particular item in the grocery, I would never consider my assistance as flirting, although some people would.

Flirting can consist of making jokes, direct compliments, teasing that prolongs a conversation beyond its natural limits. Most sales people will flatter the customer pretending an interest they don’t feel.  My sales training focused on how to friend the person creating an affability to make a sale. The service person, server, or car salesperson really isn’t interested in you. Depending on their policy, they could get in trouble for not smiling or wishing you a pleasant day.

Several co-workers insisted they received better service by flirting. Most of the time they got the same service everyone else did. A perusal of a magazine meant for restaurant owners and employees listed the issues servers had with customers. Number one was flirting. Most of the time the young server was creeped out by men or women old enough to be his or her parents flirting them up. Especially icky was when customers leered, made comments about the server’s appearance, or even mentioned coming back again. It sounds a great deal like stalking.

Why do people bother to flirt, especially in the presence of their spouse or significant other? First, they have a captive audience with employees who can’t say anything negative at the risk of losing a sale or possibly their job.  The would-be Lotharios set out to prove to the significant other that they are still hot. While the server ducks back into the kitchen to get their order, the flirter might even go on about how intrigued the waitress was. When in truth, she’s relating the hackneyed lines to the amusement of her fellow workers.


Secondly, it is a no-risk situation. The flirter doesn’t have to worry about rejection because, as the buyer, he or she holds all the power. The intention was never to pick up someone, but just to build up some self-esteem. Doing this in front of a significant other guarantees the safety aspect. It also means that the person serving the obnoxious flirter may have a few choice descriptions uttered only after the tip is rendered, and only to fellow servers.

Occasionally, there are people who deliberately flirt to irritate their spouse, provoke jealously, or even start an argument. It makes you wonder what benefits they hope to get.

As for the salesperson who is the victim of this unwanted attention, it is a form of harassment. If a person were genuinely interested in the employee, and the server felt likewise, then it would be an entirely different story. The flirting would serve its natural purpose as opposed to trying to cop a free appetizer.

Often, employees will play the flirting game. An example is giving the offender free pie as if it were a special gift between the two of them even though the restaurant had a free pie policy. This results in the flirter tipping more in the belief he received something special.

Back in the day, when I was waitress, a single, older man was usually a guarantee of a big tip if played appropriately. It kind of makes you wonder who is playing whom?

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