Waffle House Communication

Waffle Houses (at least the few I’ve been to) are normally loud, happy, boisterous, friendly places. The servers calling out the orders and the cook repeating it back creates an order in the chaos. The customers get their food quickly (and correctly) and people are happy.

This morning I was treated (?) to a display of the effects of a lack of communication. First, it was busier than usual. Second, they we understaffed. Most importantly, the usual back and forth communication had broken down. The servers would call out the orders but the cook didn’t respond, possibly because she didn’t hear or she was busy. Consequently orders didn’t get on the grill, customers were upset, staff was angry, and it was an uncomfortable situation for everybody. Because of the busyness and the tension, they hadn’t got around to doing routine prep work so that as the next shift showed up, there were arguments and hard feelings there too. It made me wonder how long through the day the cycle of tension and anger and lack of communication would continue.

The whole situation reminded me how important it is, especially in tense and busy times, to practice good active listening skills:

  • First, we need to acknowledge and seek to reduce any tension and stress.
  • Next, reduce our internal anger and frustration level.
  • Then, relax our posture and tone of voice.
  • Finally, the speaker needs to be as clear as possible, then the listener repeats back what was said. The process is continued until both are satisfied there is understanding.


Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:19 ESV


A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV


Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

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