Set the Tone and Increase Your Earnings with Positive Body Language

As a server or bartender, you’re often the first, and last, staff member a customer encounters. Your interactions will set the tone for the evening so you want to greet your customers warmly, and leave them reflecting on a positive experience once they head for the door. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a solid one. Professionalism and competence are very important, but so is projecting a great attitude and body language.

It’s important to remember that good food, drinks and a great ambiance are not the only components to a great night out. Have you ever had poor service or a standoffish server? Experiences like this can play huge into your overall impression of an establishment. On the flipside, a positive attitude and a smile can go a long way toward making patrons feel relaxed and welcome. Not only will you put your guests into a good frame of mind, projecting a positive attitude and body language will help YOU to relax and enjoy your job as well. And, as an added bonus, positive body language and professionalism set the tone for an enjoyable evening and can net you greater tips. Here are a few easy body language dos and don’ts for hospitality workers:

  1. Smile. A smile is the first social cue your guests will pick up on, and can immediately set the tone for a positive interaction. A genuine smile conveys friendliness and a can-do attitude.
  2. Don’t cross your arms or slouch. Crossing your arms over your chest tells your customer that you’re bored, bothered or closed to them. The same thing goes for hosts and other hospitality staff, slouching over the host stand with your arms crossed is NOT the first sight your customers should see when they walk in the door; you’re showing them that you’re not having a good time and would rather be someplace else. Stand up straight and make a great impression.
  3. Pay attention and remain engaged. When taking a guest’s order, make sure you’re turned to face them and pay attention. Restaurants and bars can be loud and busy at times, but don’t get distracted and turn your gaze elsewhere. A guest wants to feel like they have your attention and an interested expression or nod to confirm you’ve heard their order is all it takes.

For even more tips on positive and negative body language, you can refer to’s article, “Increase Your Tips: Professionalism and Body Language Will Earn You More Than Praise.” You can also review Hospitality Job Site’s blog post, “Hospitality 101 – The Smile and Body Language,” for even more insight into body languages cues for hospitality professionals.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. What tips would you give someone to improve on their body language?


© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada


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