Self-Care in an Industry of Service

    Having grown up in the hospitality industry, I was taught to always put the guests’ needs first. This mindset then flowed into putting everyone’s needs first. This included characteristics such as watching my tone and words to ensure that I am never offending anyone. Examples include not saying “you should” or “you need to” when talking with people; after all, who likes to be told what to do? I even overworked myself to ensure the guests’ expectations were exceeded. Yet in all of my efforts to ensure everyone else was taken care of first, I forgot how to take care of myself.
    Obviously I am capable of simple hygiene and ensuring that I appear professional, especially in the guests’ eyes. I am talking about emotional care. After recently listening to a reservation sales agent share that she cried about how she was talked to by a customer, I wondered how I could help her. What came to mind was the concept of not taking things personally, especially when encountering a challenging customer. Sometimes people have bad days and take their frustration out on the next person they encounter. And if you work in the service industry, sometimes that person is you.
    For years I have been beating myself up, wondering what I did or what I could have done differently to ensure a guest or customer liked me, just like this agent worried about her upset customer. In the end, I realized that it wasn’t about me. I think it is very easy for us “pleasers” to get in this mindset. At a certain point I made a change to take care of myself first.
    I would like to introduce a book that offers hospitality “pleasers” a way of providing self-care and giving top notch service to everyone. This book is called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, in which the author outlines these four concepts:
    • Be Impeccable with Your Word
      Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
    • Don’t Take Anything Personally
      Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
    • Don’t Make Assumptions
      Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
    • Always Do Your Best
      Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.
    I also find that the people who are so quick to judge others are hardest on themselves. Once I was able to have empathy for people, I was able to stop judging not only others but myself as well. Since I have lived daily practicing the above Four Agreements as well as having empathy for people, I have felt emotionally healthy and confident that I am giving the highest level of service I can give. I believe that service is a way of life and we are able to share our service through the hospitality industry and our everyday actions.
    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
    Ali Cammelletti, president and consultant at Cammelletti Consulting, has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. She has served in many capacities within the industry, from a front line restaurant and lodging employee to building and owning a successful event planning business. For more information about Ali Cammelletti and Cammelletti Consulting, visit her website at http://www.cammelletticonsulting.com/
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