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Three interpersonal skills I learned from working in hospitality

When I turned eighteen, I decided to get a job behind the bar in a restaurant as I could do with some extra cash. I choose bar work as it would fit in well with my Uni roster; I could work evenings without it affecting my class attendance. Perfect!

First, I signed up for a bartending course with Sydney Bar School to get a bit of practical experience before applying for jobs. The course was very helpful as I learned to set up a bar, pour drinks (in the correct glasses - little did I know there were different glasses for red and white wine ;-), how to tap beer and all sorts of handy skills! Our course instructor was super nice and really took his time to explain things clearly. Once I finished the day I felt ready to start work!

When I started working my first bar job, I realised there was so much more to it than simply turning up for work, pouring a few drinks and going home! I ended up learning a variety of life skills including the following three interpersonal skills:

1. Team work
In no other industry, team work is as important as it is in hospitality. Together as a team, you represent the establishment and together as a team, you must create a great experience for your guests. Being in the right flow together really helps; one collects empty glasses, one washes and dries. Empty beer keg? One replaces it while the other continues to offer customer service. Working behind the bar has taught me there is no “I” in team. Plus, I learnt it is so much more fun when “you’re all in it together”! I have made friends working at bars and restaurants that I still hang out with regularly.
2. Communications
Communication and teamwork go hand in hand. I learned to give clear directions and feedback to not only customers but also to co-workers. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll find yourself dealing with little conflict situations. For instance, I once had to deal with a situation where one customer wanted me to turn the music up and another wanted me to turn it down. What I did then? I assessed the situation and - in a polite manner - made clear to both customers what I based my decision on. I also learned quickly to keep my co-workers in the loop, so we’d all be on the same page. Last thing you’d want is for one of your colleagues to do the opposite of what you’ve just communicated to your customers. Effective communication takes time, but in the long-run it’s 100% worth taking this time to ensure everyone understands - and is happy with - the decisions made.
3. Public Speaking
Part of communicating clearly is the ability to speak in public. Well I must say this was one of the toughest skills for me to learn. I’m not saying I was super shy when I started working in hospitality, but does anyone really like having more than twenty sets of eyes staring at you when they announce something? ;-) In certain situations, it was essential to address a large group of people. This could be when there was a bit of chaos around a booking for a large dinner party or perhaps a group of rowdy football supporters who had too much to drink. When our manager asked us to go and speak to a large party, I went from “no way, can you please do it?” to “ok, I’ll do it (with little anxious butterflies in my stomach)” to “no worries, I’ve got this” in about six months.
So there they are; three interpersonal skills I learned from working behind the bar that I am sure will come in very handy the rest of my life! If you’re interested to become a bartender as well, check out this Sydney CBD bartending course.

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