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Communication Lessons from a Bartender

For the first time in over two years, we were so excited to meet up with old friends.  As parents to four kids, it’s always a struggle to get adult time with this couple, but obviously it was impossible during the pandemic.

We had so much to catch up on that we lost track of time.  After dinner we moved to the bar so we could continue our reunion.  Just as we were about to order another drink, we realized the bartender was staring daggers at us.

My friend asked, “Do you want us to leave?”

“Well, I would like to go home,” the bartender replied.

“Why didn’t you let us know you were closing?  Why didn’t you offer us last call?” 

The bartender asked, “Do you want anything else?”

“No, just cash us out,” my friend replied.

Who knows how long the bartender stood there wishing we would leave.  We had no idea the restaurant was closing.  We had no idea what time it was.  We were in our own little bubble.

It was the bartender’s responsibility to clearly communicate with us.  She didn’t say anything when we first sat down at the bar.  She didn’t say anything when she delivered our first drinks.  She didn’t say anything until she was noticed, and even then, her thoughts had to be pried out of her.

I recognized her reticence.  I could see her struggling to voice her needs.  She didn’t want to interrupt.  She stood there and suffered, waiting to be seen. 

Oh yes, I recognized the symptoms.

She and my past-self have a lot in common.  I used to be a lot like her.  Afraid to speak up for myself.  Never clearly communicating when something bothered me.  Allowing others to take advantage of my need to please.

That was before I learned how to create healthy boundaries.  Before I learned how to express my thoughts and desires.

When a bartender announces - Last Call - it clearly communicates several things: the bar is closing; we will serve you one more drink; close your tab; prepare to exit the building; you will see us start cleaning up around you; it’s time to go home.

The bartender cannot be wishy-washy.  The bartender sets expectations, and they are non-negotiable. 

Last Call is a great metaphor for what it means to be thoughtfully selfish: this is the last time I will lend you money; please call before coming over; do not schedule meetings during lunch; let’s agree to disagree and move on.

We cannot afford to wait to be noticed.  We cannot be wishy-washy about our expectations, boundaries, and desires. 

It is our responsibility to clearly communicate - Last Call - to people in our lives who take advantage of our need to please. 

Where in your life do you need to announce - Last Call ?

For more tips and tricks to Create Healthy Boundaries and Say NO With Confidence, download my free People Pleaser's Toolkit and begin practicing today.  

If you have questions about how Thoughtfully Selfish Coaching works, visit or if you are ready to talk 1:1 click here to schedule a 30-minute discovery chat with me.