Self-Care in an Industry of Service

Feb 23, 2016

Having grown up in the Hospitality Industry, I was taught to always put the guest’s 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? Even overworking myself to ensure the guest’s expectations were over exceeded. Yet in all of my efforts to ensure everyone else is 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 guest’s eyes. Yet 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. The concept that came to mind, was “not taking things personally”, when encountering a challenging customer or some random person who decides to take their bad day out on the next person they encounter. For years I have been beating myself up, wondering what I did or what I could have done differently to ensure they liked me, just like this agent… In the end, 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. The following are his agreements:


1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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 others as well as myself. 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