If you’ve watched any Star Wars, I am sure you remember Jedi mind tricks. You know, when Obi Wan Kenobi said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” and the evil Storm Troopers walked away all fuzzy and bamboozled. Was this just the mind-musing of George Lucas or are there any Jedi mind tricks? Well…sort of.
I was listening to the radio the other day while I working away in my office and heard a program where a psychologist was talking about the difficult life of tipped employees, how their livable wages have decreased and ways they might work to get higher tips. Here are some of the things he listed:
- Introduce yourself.
- Squat down at the table to make eye contact.
- Stand within at least 2 feet of customers.
- Show friendliness with a discreet touch on the arm or shoulder.
- Smile wide.
- Compliment your customer’s choices.
- Repeat customer orders or requests.
- Be entertaining and friendly.
- Say “thank you” or write it on their check at the end of the experience.
- Call customers by name.
As I looked at this list, I was struck by the logic when I thought about it in the context of brain science. You see, the most primitive part of our brain, the so-called lizard brain, has the sole function of determining what things are threatening to us and what things are not. It’s there to keep us alive. However, there’s a major challenge, this primitive core cannot tell the difference between a waiter with a bad attitude and a thief with a gun, both are equally worrying and hazardous to the lizard and it will quickly move into a defensive posture and potentially hijack the ability to reason out an intelligent response. This is not only true when physically threatened; it is also true when socially threatened. Thus, the way to counter the struggle with the lizard is to appeal to the most critical things it sees as socially threatening, and thankfully, due to neuro-science, we have some answers as to what these things are. Recent brain research has shown that we actually feel less socially threatened when we perceive being welcome, respected, listened to, included in decisions and made confident that things will go well. By doing things that are welcoming, respectful, etc., we literally relax the lizard and make others more open and willing to collaborate. This may seem obvious and something your momma taught you, but here is the science behind it.
Anyway, take a look at the list again and think about this lesson in brain science. Many of the actions on the list seek to appeal directly to the lizard. If you go down the list, you can easily place these actions as being welcoming, respectful, attentive or confidence-building, and by practicing these types of behaviors, you may not only get better tips but you might also deliver a better, more memorable experience and build more customer loyalty. Heck, practicing these things might even help you in your personal relationships and help break down a few walls. So I guess there really are a few Jedi mind tricks available to all of us, and without having to go on a trip to see a Jedi master in a galaxy far, far away.