Recently, I was at a hotel to deliver a workshop. I had planned to eat lunch beforehand. My colleague and I arrived at the onsite restaurant 15 minutes before lunch was being served.

The service attendant reluctantly let us in early to sit in the dining area. For those 15 minutes, we were ignored. We weren’t offered a glass of water until the attendant was ready to serve us (on her time).

I asked myself: if this were her home and we arrived early to visit her, would she let us in and make us sit in the living room without offering us a glass of water until the due time to meet or would she start hosting us immediately and offer us a cuppa on arrival?

The way this scenario played out was a result of the employee’s mindset. In that moment, she identified herself as the rule follower, the obedient employee who chose not to do what would come naturally to her if she were genuinely hosting us—like she would have if we were in her home.

My colleague and I were treated as different to her, separate from her. There was a feeling of us and them. We felt like we were a burden, a chore. We didn’t feel welcome; we didn’t feel like she was putting herself in our shoes. This happens when we only ever view ourselves as the employee and not the customer.

The skill in service is to see past the front counters and front doors of our workplaces and to dissolve our sense of identity. There is no separation.

Jaquie Scammell

‘Love Being in Service’

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