These days, having a productive discussion with your company while eating out is a privilege that not many people have. This may be due to the music, the closely placed tables or even the noise from the kitchen. It is also said that raised noise levels are created intentionally sometimes in order to impart a lively feel to the restaurant. It also helps to decrease the time spent at the table for the same order! Modern restaurant designs, depicting a minimalist approach, having hard surfaces, and high roofs have only intensified the issue.
Yet, having a meal at a restaurant can certainly be a pleasant way to have important discussions during a business meeting or even to just catch up with family and friends. So, if you feel intimidated by the noise at these places, read on to find some hacks to make restaurant meetings and get-togethers a more relaxed and enjoyable affair.
Choose The Right Restaurant
If you are the one who’s deciding the venue (or have a say in it), try choosing one that has a softer ambiance. This takes the burden off you and enables effective hearing, without you having to strain your ears to be in the conversation. The simplest way to choose such a venue is by calling the restaurant and inquire if they have a separate area for business meetings or maybe even a quiet corner. Even if it’s not a business outing for you, this is a good question to ask. The management knows that quieter settings are more conducive for holding business meetings (it is for this reason that you rarely witness loud music during afternoons.) Another thing that’s helpful to make this decision is the reviews on sites like Yelp and Open Table. The users talk about the ambiance just as much as the food and you could get your valuable cue!
Schedule Your Outing Wisely
It is a good idea to avoid peak hours for your meeting or even casual outing. Usually, restaurants are crowded between noon to 1:30 pm during the day and between 6:00 – 7:00 pm in the evenings. Although these timings can vary owing to the holidays, weekends or special events, for most places, this is the norm. If you are unsure, you can always call and ask the restaurant about their slow business hours.
Prepare For Your Visit
In circumstances where you or your company for the outing has hearing problems, the importance of calling ahead to make few requests can never hurt anybody. When you explain your need for a quieter table, you have done your bit to enhance your experience considerably. When you call, you can request the staff to avoid seating you on tables that are near the extra-noisy areas like the bar or the kitchen. If they have booths or separate cubicles, opt for those. The soft cushion and taller backs create ‘pockets’ of reduced noise that enables better conversations. If such a provision is not there, ask for a corner table. Tables along the perimeters are subjected to lesser noise. This is due to the fact that loud noise echoes more in the center of a room. Often, we don’t want to embarrass ourselves by making such demands. However, you must know that these requests are quite common and definitely worth it. What’s the point in eating out, whether for business or leisure, when you can’t hear properly, right?
Seat Yourself Conveniently
Once at the table, choose your seat so as to have your back to the source of noise in the restaurant (another reason to opt for the ‘perimeter tables.’) The modern day hearing aid is equipped with features like reduction of background noise. This works on the assumption that you will be facing in the direction of the sounds that you want to hear. So, it is imperative that you use this feature to your advantage. If there is a group of businesspersons that you are meeting, politely ask the main speaker to take the seat that’s right opposite to yours. Moreover, if you are at the corner most table, having the other person’s back towards the wall will help amplify the sound of their voice towards you.
Take Help From Technology
With recent advancements in the hearing field, it is but natural to resort to technology. Assistive listening devices (ALD) are devices that are aimed specifically at combating the hearing difficulties faced in restaurant-like noisy environments. A personal FM system is particularly useful for this purpose. It involves a tiny FM microphone and a small receiver. You wear the receiver while the microphone is kept on the table. The receiver can either transmit directly to your hearing aid or it could be a simplistic looped cord that you can wear around the neck. To know more about these devices, it is best to talk to your audiologist.