Let me share with you a thing or two my mom subtly taught me during our weekend in London.
On Saturday morning, we went to the Wolseley, which is glorified for having the reputation of “best breakfast in London”. The restaurant was beautiful in appearance and comes with overabundance of staff - very much in contrast to Paris' eateries. Mom ordered the eggs salmon benedict and I, 2 half-boiled eggs and soldiers. When the food arrived, we couldn’t stop laughing. My eggs were served on what seemed like a 2-pronged candelabra.
You just had to be there to appreciate how ridiculous it looked, not to mention, non-appetizing. When I cracked into my eggs, they were unfortunately close to full-boiled but I was fine with it. Mom dug into her eggs salmon benedict and after tasting the first forkful she said she couldn’t eat it. It just wasn’t edible. I tried a little of her dish and immediately had to start eating my bread and drink my tea and stuff my mouth with whatever else I could find on the table to get rid of the awful taste.
She was turned off by that dish so much that she didn’t want to order any other from the menu. Mom said to me “if the waiter asked whether the food was delicious, don’t say it was”. I was stunned when she said this.
It goes with the blog that I only rave about places I really love and will refrain from posting about places that I don’t. The same also applies in real life. When I truly enjoyed the food, I’d speak my mind and promote and when I don’t, I keep quiet. However when asked by a staff, I tend to respond with a white lie for politeness sake. During the past 3 weeks, we have been eating out a lot. Some were good, some bad and others, average. I wondered if my mom had been monitoring my comments.
When the waiter came to clear our table, he must’ve noticed my mom’s plate which was almost untouched. He asked, “is everything okay?”, whilst gesturing to the full plate. I wanted to say “yes everything is fine” But instead I said “no, she didn’t like it”. The waiter continued clearing our table and didn’t say anything. I felt so bad and immediately regretted what I said.
He came back with the bill and I realised the “eggs benedict” was not included. I called another staff, who turned out to be the manager, who said, “We have taken that item off the bill because your mother didn’t like her dish. We are sorry about this and we hope that the next time you come in, you will have a better experience”.
The reason I felt bad about telling the truth to the waiter was because I couldn't bear the thoughts of upsetting him. If you can somehow relate to this characteristic, think back to the few instances in your life where you felt inclined to agree and say yes in order to please someone and in fear of hurting their feelings.
That toxic friend, those one-way relationships, those times when you had often gone out of your way to help people, whether asked or not, for friends, families, boss, colleagues, you name it, even when you couldn’t nor have the time to do it?
If you can relate to that too and if this happens too many times: Stop it.
One of the reasons we don’t reach our dreams is because we don’t prioritise ourselves. We don’t put ourselves first. Instead we care too much about other people’s thoughts and feelings and worry too much about the possible disastrous effect it could have on them if we tell the truth.
The art of people-pleasing takes a lot of energy. More often than we like to acknowledge, it benefits only the people we are helping. You may get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped but get this, to reach your dreams, you have to work on it. Nobody else is going to do your work for you. So how can you work on your dreams if you are too occupied with helping and pleasing everybody else?
If I didn’t say anything to the waiter and just smiled politely or perhaps even say “my Asian mom doesn’t like Western food” which is absolutely not true, that eggs salmon benedict would’ve stayed on the bill. Rest assured, I’d never go back to the restaurant. But by saying how it was, the restaurant cleverly took that chance to demonstrate how graciously mannered they are in receiving feedback and taking actions which encouraged us to revisit next time. Perhaps the kitchen had one of those ‘off’ days, I can relate to that.
So you see how being honest and truthful could be good for everybody? Nobody was insulted and nobody was offended, I certainly was happy and impressed.
Start to voice out your opinions and give yourself more time, effort and energy to work on your dreams.
Please don’t misunderstand this post as a suggestion to stop helping your sick grandmother etc. Do not take this post out of context. See the positive message that I meant it to be. It is to help you realise how important you and your opinions are. How things can work out to be better, more efficient and less stressful if you dare to be honest when it is fitting. Just one more step closer towards your dreams.