Do You Have A Reservation?

Do You Have A Reservation?

Do You Have A Reservation?



Do you ever notice how much you are getting asked “Do you have a reservation?” when entering a restaurant even when there doesn’t seem to be too many patrons? A friend and I were asked that question in a restaurant that was about one-third full. Unbelievably it immediately brought up a “fear” response for me. Is the restaurant so booked that they won’t be able to serve us?

I mentioned the experience to my husband later in the day and I theorized that more restaurants are asking this question to give the appearance that they are so busy they might not be able to accommodate us. It used to be that nicer, more exclusive restaurants would require a reservation and casual restaurants you could just walk in and potentially wait if there were a lot of people. Now it seems like most restaurants ask this question.

My husband replied that maybe they asked because they need to check off that a reservation came in. Certainly, with apps like “Open Table,” you can make reservations at more kinds of restaurants than you could in the past.

My husband’s response got me thinking how I had created a story in my head based on one sentence, “Do you have a reservation?” I told myself the restaurant wanted to imbue a sense of exclusivity because that was my interpretation of reservations. Restaurants that ask for reservations are harder to get into.

I also got a little annoyed because of my perceived belief that we might not get seated since we didn’t have a reservation even though the restaurant wasn’t full. The sentence became a subtle, sales technique in my mind and yet I didn’t have any facts to support the idea this was true. I had created a story.

Storytelling is how we make meaning for what we are experiencing. We jumble together a combination of observations, conclusions, and theories and mix in our beliefs, assumptions, and biases.

We also physically react to the story we think is unfolding. Our body might release feel good hormones like oxytocin, dopamine or serotonin that help us feel calm or connected to others. Or we release stress and arousal hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that can turn on the “fight, flight or freeze” response. We can do it in nanoseconds. Then we react to the situation based on the story we told ourselves.

Yet – how often do we get in wrong? How many stories are we telling ourselves and how much do we believe them without getting curious about what might be some other possibilities? How often is a person’s reputation based on someone’s interaction with them that may have been an isolated incident where they acted out of character?

How much do we question the details of the story? I could have gotten curious and asked questions to the host such as:

  • Is it important to make a reservation if I plan to eat here?
  • Why did you ask if we had reservation?
  • It seems like this is a much more common question in restaurants these days. Do you happen to know why?

Adding an introduction such as “I am just curious . . .” will help to explain why you are asking a seemingly obvious question.

One quick tip to share about asking questions. Try not to fill in the answers for the person because you may not get as much information. It’s the difference between asking a multiple- choice question or a short essay question. I found myself wanting to add more detail to my questions including what I thought might be true such as: “Why did you ask if we had a reservation? . . . Do you need to check it off in the system? Is your restaurant on the Open Table App? Avoid providing answers and you tend to get much more detail and are often surprised at what you learn.

We make up stories in our head every day and then we decide how we are going to act based on those stories. What if we started to consider whether the stories we are telling ourselves are accurate or is there another way or multiple ways to look at a situation?

When we start to ask others about their “stories” (how they see a situation), we begin to bring more perspective and information to any given situation. This often makes it easier to communicate and collaborate with others. More importantly, we get to understand how another person thinks and feels. Super Leaders who take the time to get curious and question the stories they tell themselves and discover other people’s stories are better at inspiring and leading others.

Experiment: Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself and get curious about what you don’t know or could look at from another perspective.

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.