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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Day

Alternatives to Public Shaming

Imagine having a particularly challenging day at work: mistakenly sending a company-wide email with an inappropriate emoji, losing a significant client, or awkwardly misjudging a conversation with a colleague. While these incidents are undoubtedly embarrassing, they're unlikely to become public fodder for criticism on social media, particularly if your profession lies outside the hospitality sector.


In most careers, a bad day remains private, sparing individuals from public scrutiny or the financial repercussions of widespread negative attention. However, a mistake or an off day can quickly escalate into public shaming for service industry professionals, leading to hurtful and damaging consequences.


AI image of an angry man on his phone in a very busy restaurant.

This discrepancy highlights a broader issue with how we approach feedback in our increasingly online world. Before rushing to post a negative review over minor issues like lukewarm fries or an accidental spill, consider the impact of publicly airing grievances about strangers who are just trying to do their jobs. Offering the same understanding and courtesy we'd appreciate in their shoes can go a long way.


Here are some constructive alternatives to public criticism:


Direct Communication

Engage directly with restaurant staff or management to share your feedback. A respectful, face-to-face conversation can be incredibly effective. It allows you to understand the context behind the service and acknowledge the hard work of those in the industry. This approach fosters a constructive dialogue, often revealing that the individual involved typically performs well but may be experiencing personal challenges.


Feedback Tools at Checkout

Many restaurants now offer the option to leave feedback via their point-of-sale systems. This method sends your comments directly to the owner, allowing immediate action and reducing the likelihood of negative reviews proliferating online.


Email or Text Feedback

Following your visit, you might offer feedback via email or text. This allows you to reflect on your experience and privately share detailed, thoughtful feedback. This approach ensures that your concerns are addressed directly by the management or owner, allowing them to understand and rectify any issues.


Life doesn't operate like the "Black Mirror" episode "Nosedive," where social media ratings dictate one's societal standing, but the consequences of our online actions can be similarly impactful. The hospitality industry demands constant positivity, which can be a heavy burden. Recognizing the humanity behind the service and understanding that mistakes are natural can help mitigate the impulse for harsh social media criticism.


A personal anecdote underscores this point: an individual complained about not being able to secure a table at our fully booked restaurant despite an apparent empty table. The individual vowed never to return, a decision that, while firm and completely agreed upon, ultimately reflects a misunderstanding of the complexities behind restaurant management and reservations.


In summary, approaching feedback with empathy, respect, and direct communication can enhance the dining experience for everyone involved and foster a more understanding and supportive community.


Mike Tyson quote: "Social media made y'all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it."

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