My Starbucks Social Etiquette Lessons

I can brew a cup of coffee in the office, I know.

But heck, once a day I like to hop to the Starbucks at Young Circle in Hollywood, grab a latte, warmed croissant, feel the people vibe.

The social etiquette among the baristas is exceptional. The social etiquette among the guests hit and miss.

Nowadays, “social etiquette” tends to connote our skill at navigating social media. Therein lies the dilemma. We act in public as if we were in private space.

Truly successful folk don’t switch on their etiquette simply when the stakes are high. They follow it in every setting, with every person.

The video of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry that went viral shows what happens when we don’t. So not pretty. So wrong.

Let us hone our social etiquette skills, one Starbucks visit at a time:

  1. Talk to the BaristaThe barista is a human being, not a computer screen. Give him eye contact. Get off the darn cell phone. There are very few things in life that can’t wait so you can have a social moment with another human being. And by social I mean face-to-face.

  2. Exude WarmthSnap into social-interaction-mode. There’s absolutely no reason to be rude, to be snippy, to be aloof when you’re engaging in public space. Having a bad day? I hope your day will get better – but I really don’t care. Don’t dump your bad-day-energy on everyone else. Smiling works.

  3. Manage Public TimeYou have waited in line for 3 minutes. When it’s your turn to order, you still don’t know what you want? When it’s time to pay you start to dig through your purse. Trying to find your wallet, as if you didn’t know you had to pay? Drop the self-absorption. Switch from it’s all-about-me time to it’s about-everybody’s-time.

  4. Share Public SpaceWhen you’re at the condiment station, step aside so others can share the station with you. If you spill the milk, please wipe it clean. It’s what you would do at home, right? If you use the lavatories, flush the toilet. You do that in your bathroom, don’t you? Public space is not personal space; if anything, treat it with even more respect than you would your own.

Want to make the world a better place? Great. Let us dream big together – and let us do it one Starbucks visit at a time.

Honor the presence of others. Follow social etiquette. Follow it vigilantly.

A micro-moment at Starbucks is a mirror to how we do all other moments.

Practice in the Starbucks micro-lab. Apply it everywhere.

It works.