How to Improve Your Restaurant Experience by 25% (and how this helps in other areas)
A change that makes things more friendly and conspiratorial.
Okay, I'm the annoying one who starts moving things around in restaurants. For some years now, I’ve been a very awkward customer. It’s just I really don’t like the standard restaurant table layout for two people, where one sits opposite the other. I found whenever I sat at 45 degrees to someone in a restaurant instead of opposite them, we seemed to have a better time. When you think about it, this makes sense. Facing someone directly is seen as confrontational. Like a kind of squaring up. Sitting at 45 degrees (or even virtually alongside them) is more friendly, conspiratorial.
So why do restaurants keep laying out tables like this? I went to a cheap-and-cheerful fun Italian restaurant in London recently. My friend and I walked in and there, laid in front of us, were row after row of tables for two with seating directly opposite each other. They were so tightly bunched together I couldn’t do my usual trick and get the staff to switch the table around. Grrr. I was physically closer to the strangers sitting to the left and right of me than I was to my friend sitting opposite me. I could have reached over and taken a bite of pasta. (But that would have been totally weird.)
It's thought a better position for communication is at 45 degrees to the other person, or even virtually next to them. It takes away the confrontation.
There is a (semi) serious point to all this. If you find yourself in a confrontational situation, try and change your position so you're not facing them head on. By moving your angle, you may make yourself more persuasive and take the edge out of the situation. (The picture of the restaurant in this blog is Busaba a Thai restaurant in London, where everyone sits alongside each other on big tables. It's great.)
So yes, I’m the awkward one in restaurants who asks for the tables to be moved around and reset. It just seems to work.