Tap This Bartending Wisdom

Your day has unraveled. By 5 o’clock, the meets and measures you woke up hoping to knit into a fine, formfitting sweater now resemble something the cats appropriated for their own amusement.

Simply put, you need a drink. Now.

Which is precisely why we often overlook the wealth of business lessons to be learned from the kindly, ambidextrous sir or madam who treads the well-worn boards between ordinary Janes and Johns and their Jim Beams and Jamesons.

After all, a bartender’s lot is not world’s away from a meeting planner’s, right? Both are skilled communicators, strategists, diplomats, negotiators, problem-solvers – and on occasion, enforcers. Both are at the party but not in the party. Both are most effective when invisible.

Go on, enjoy your “Norm!” moment. We’ve already committed to a clean cocktail napkin these five bartender tips for you to better absorb tomorrow morning.

Acknowledge the obvious: The world ‘round, whether it’s a five-star hotel or an airport gulp-and-go, the barroom is the one place we all acknowledge the obvious: we’re human. That’s why they’re the reigning after-work destination, the place to celebrate major life events and the one-stop place to cheer on our favorite sports teams or console ourselves in defeat. Accepting our human connection and built-in shortcomings makes it easier to bring people together.

Lose the script: The bartender who holds to a scripted conversation will soon be an ex-bartender. Why? Because bar patrons flock to bars specifically to unburden themselves of the scripts in their lives that weigh on them from time to time. After you (figuratively) shout, “Norm!,” your most effective course is to lose the script and…

Listen: Every good bartender listens. But if you listen closely, you’ll better appreciate how they listen. They’re attentive but not judgmental, caring but not sharing what patrons might divulge. They laugh at our jokes but rarely tell one themselves. What are they really listening for? Their customer’s need; in their case for another round. Are you listening as casually but intently to your client’s needs?

Use your illusion: One of the most popular new bar novelties is the magician bartender. Small wonder, since the barroom world is something of a slight-of-hand trick itself, a magical place where everybody knows your name, or doesn’t, as you prefer. A good bartender knows to keep a few tricks under the counter to keep the crowd engaged, entertained and thirsty. Meeting planners are all about creating an illusion as well. Do you have enough tricks to keep the party going?

Maintain your composure: Just as bars can get rowdy, meeting planning can take a turn for the worse. Your job: buck up, take a deep breath, keep your cool – and yes, pounce on problem drinkers (or thinkers) accordingly. You’re the gatekeeper; without you, things can unravel, timelines can tilt and mayhem may ensue. Best practice: always keep a bar towel handy and don’t be afraid to snap it!


Photo credits: Cheers sign: Atomazul / Shutterstock.com,others, Shutterstock.com.

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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