Forget the old saying, “The customer’s always right.” There ought to be a new saying: “The customer should always be polite!” Here’s why you should be nice to your restaurant server:

  • Mean and aggressive customers really do mess with a server's head. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, restaurant employees are forced to stifle their reactions and behave as if the customer is always right. But that can negatively impact their performance on the job. Because when a customer’s rude, the server doesn't just shrug it off - they dwell on it and feel upset. And that reaction has an effect on their brain! It reduces their ability to process information - which translates to: You get the wrong order! And the person at the table next to you with the peanut allergy gets the chicken satay with the peanut sauce!

  • The nicest servers have it the worst! According to a study in the journal Motivation and Emotion, the more upbeat and enthusiastic someone is, the harder they take it when someone is rude and unappreciative. Because ungratefulness is more upsetting to someone who's really trying to be helpful.

  • When your server is slapping on a fake smile to hide their misery – it makes things even worse! Because according to studies at Penn State, faking positivity burns the brain's glucose supply. That's what feeds the brain, which means the more mental energy they use to fake their mood, the less brainpower they have left to do a good job!

So, if you’re a restaurant server, what’s the best way to deal with a rude customer? Try seeing things from the customer’s perspective. Psychologists say that being able to see that it’s possible the rude woman at table 12 had a bad day and she’s taking it out on you can create emotional distance. And if you can see that a nasty customer’s outburst isn’t a reflection on you, it’ll reduce your stress and it won’t impact your job performance.