Unfortunately, formality is all but lost in today’s world. Casual Friday has become casual everyday. Even our President has shown us his casual side, appearing in an address to school children without a tie and an open collar. Now, I’m all for casual. I love wearing jeans and a polo shirt on the weekend or workout clothes going to and from yoga class. The issue here is that formality breeds respect, something that we are lacking in our me, me, me, now, now, now culture.
I’ve had the opportunity to work in many homes, all with varying levels of formality. I found that for many reasons households that are more formal tend to run more efficiently. By more formal I mean the homeowner is the boss and I am clearly an employee, not a muse, a possession, or friend. This may seem obvious but, more often than not, it isn’t.
So, how can the formality between you and those who provide you service make your life easier and more efficient? First, there needs to be a mutual level of respect. In a previous job, where I lived on the premises, my employer believed I was always available to cater to their every whim. For me, this meant when I wasn’t working I either had to be out of the house or sneaking around to try and not be seen.
In a more formal relationship, the employer understands that you work certain hours and you shouldn’t be disturbed by anything less than an emergency when you’re off. By maintaining a level of formality and respect for your nanny, housekeeper, gardener, etc, you can be rewarded with an employee that is not overworked or burned out. Your employee will be happier because the respect is flowing both ways. Most estate professionals are accustomed to showing their employers respect without expecting the same in return. Not only is it beneficial to you, as the employer, it’s the right way to treat other people. I think it’s especially important to treat those you have invited into your home to provide service with respect. An additional benefit of maintaining a formal relationship with your service providers is that it is easier to ask them to do something you wouldn’t be comfortable asking (or telling) a “friend”. For example, it’s easier to tell your employee the bathroom was not cleaned to your satisfaction than it is to tell your “friend.”
In your home it is important to maintain a level of formality to get what you want done the way that you want it done. Have respect for those who provide you a service and they will respect you and what you want in return (and not just because you’re paying them!). This goes for all of your service providers, the dry cleaner, your waiter at a restaurant, the clerk at the grocery store, to name a few. I have no problem asking for what I want and getting it in almost any circumstance. I have respect for those who are serving me.