Perfecting the art of one-to-one attention

an empty platter - with a fork and a smear of sauce. Dinner has gone!I’ve been very lucky this week – lots of wonderful meals out, in great company and in amazing places (not anything to do with me – I was working away and then my husband celebrated a major birthday).

Apart from increasing my waistline, the experiences really made me think about the value of one-to-one attention.

Service varied, as it does, but for one of the meals, it was absolute perfection. I’ve been thinking about what it was that they did that really made it hit the mark. So my take on their secrets:

Focus

One-to-one attention means you feel the focus of the process. Nothing else is as important, but that doesn’t mean you feel elevated or ‘special’ – just that your opinion, your experience, your perspective really matters.

Equality

Once in the space, all appeared equal – we didn’t get treated as ‘lesser’ or ‘more’ – there was an equity in the time and the attention we received.

Timing

And the timing itself was superb. The balance between giving you space and giving you service was measured to the millisecond.

Questions

We had questions – about ingredients and about processes. And the staff excelled at not just knowing the answers but in how they handled the questions themselves. Giving us permission to ask – encouraging us even – and then responding with a light touch and absolute accuracy. One even took to questioning us back!

Authenticity

And finally, authenticity. There wasn’t anything faked about their enthusiasm,  it shined out of them. They truly believed in what they were serving – and it showed in what they delivered.

I would say this meal – and the service we received with it – was more akin to theatre than dining.

We were the audience of a unique performance – with a cast of chefs and waiting staff delivering our evening. I’m increasingly enjoying the experience of one-on-one theatrical performances and this had the same feel, the same quality.

And I learnt so much. I can take all these elements into my work – not performances, but all the interactions I have. Offering people focused attention, equality and thinking carefully about the timing of processes. I can plan around questions – ensuring I have both the answers and that I create an environment in which they are welcomed. And I can let my own belief in what I am doing shine though. If I don’t believe in my work, then how can I expect others to?

The image is one I took, and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.

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