How often do we find ourself in a situation where we are in a waiting room? The doctors, dentist, haircuts, car service, airport, professional interviews… Just to name a few! Now how often do we find ourselves annoyed, or even offended, by the actions of others while sitting in these confined spaces?
Sensing our readers are nodding their heads and thinking back to the annoying gum chewer or the woman telling her husband a detailed grocery listed on the phone, we are going to explore the do’s and don’ts of the waiting room.
Remember:First impressions can only be made once.
From the moment one walks into a “waiting room” situation, they enter under the scrutiny of those already there. Depending on the situation, one might have to fill out paper work. DO: Take a pen if offered to fill out an application. DON’T: Dump out your bag out trying to find one. DO: Step to the side or take a seat to fill out the paper work. DON’T: Stand in front of the window or desk and hold up the rest of the line.
Was it raining out on your way to the interview or airport? Do you have a long commute on the train or bus? If you answered yes, you may be in rain boots or sneakers and need/want to change into heels or dress shoes before work, your interview, or long flight. DO: Go to the bathroom (ask for directions if needed) and change into your other shoes. DON’T: Take your shoes off in the lobby or back of the waiting room.
The BIG dilemma: what to do when it comes time to take a seat. Running through everyone’s minds are the questions: “Where to sit? How to sit? Should I face the receptionist or not?” DO: Leave space between you and others (unless if there are no more open chairs of course). DON’T: Rearrange furniture to sit next to other people you are with. DO: Sit as if you are going into the most important meeting of your life. DON’T: Slouch down, put your feet on another chair, or rest your eyes (even if for ‘just a minute’).
Stomach grumbling? Hunger often seems to find us at the most inconvenient time. Have a snack in your bag? Should you reach for it? DO: Take a sip of water! Sometimes we confuse hunger with thirst and water is a good alternative to snacking in the waiting room. DON’T: Open the bag of Doritos or trail mix- you never know if someone has a food allergy. Also you do not want to put yourself in a situation where you will need to shake someone’s hand with Dorito cheese. DO: Grab a mint or wrapped candy if available. DON’T: Throw the wrapper back in the bowl (or worse back on the ground). If no trash can is visible, tuck the wrapper into your pocket or run to the bathroom to ditch the trash. DO: Leave your coffee in the car. Just like snacks, it is not acceptable in the waiting room. It may give off the wrong impression if the waiting room location also offers coffee but you brought your own!
Now what? You’ve found a comfortable seat, but it is going to be at least another 30 minutes till you get called out of the waiting room. DO: Turn your phone on silent- no one wants to hear the beeping of your emails or cheering from a game. DON’T: Make a phone call in a space where everyone can listen in. If you must take a call, tell the receptionist and step outside or into the hallway. DO: Read! Whether it is your book or kindle or the magazine on the end table, reading stimulates the mind and can make time go by faster. DON’T: Bring inappropriate reading material (think Fifty Shades of Grey). DO: Make polite small chat if your ‘neighbor’ initiates it. DON’T: Ask others why they are there (especially in a doctors office or interview setting where the information could be seen as more personal).
Lastly, use your common sense. If you see someone doing something that annoys you, do not follow suit. Follow the mantra of putting your best foot forward in all situations- do not allow your behavior in the waiting room to cause steps backward.
Comment with your favorite “worst” waiting room experiences or tips to survive the wait!