2 Workplace behavior tips I picked up from my maid

The other day my current maid who is a hard and efficient worker did a real great job of cleaning up my house. I was particularly impressed by the hassle free attitude she has towards her work. After cleaning up my house she came to me and politely asked for a raise. Being super impressed with her work I felt she deserved the raise and happily obliged her.

Now let me rewind to a similar incident that took place a few months earlier when my ex-maid was working. A major cribber, she found fault with everything in my house. “Your kids are too rowdy, they are always throwing away their toys”, “My earlier employer had a neat house, I hardly had to do anything” and so on. Not being used to being reprimanded by my maid, I was shocked by her attitude. It was her job, and I had clearly stated her job description before employing her, why then was she creating such a fuss over the work she willingly took up? Strangely enough she was not willing to quit the job either.  After few months of a very uncomfortable employer employee relationship, she suddenly demanded a salary hike hinting at the fact that her lack luster performance was due to her dis-satisfaction with the salary. I politely declined her offer and showed her the door. Asking for a salary hike is OK but there is a way to do that. You cannot justify your below average performance by accusing your employer of not paying you enough, especially when you have discussed and agreed upon the salary beforehand.

I believe that no work on earth is beneath us, we all do what we can do. Just because I aspired to be a CEO of a company, I cannot be disinterested in my humble work as a Software engineer or a Technical Writer. I need to give the respect due to my profession and I have to do that work with utmost dedication almost bordering on devotion.  Being a citizen of Gandhi’s nation I wholeheartedly believe in his opinion that “Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it.”

That said, let’s compare the two scenarios:

  1. First one proves herself worthy of a raise. Asserts herself without fearing the consequences or doubting her employer. Asks for her rights, politely and respectfully.
  2. Second one neither shows interest in her work, nor proves her worth. Cribs and insults the employer. Demands a raise assuming that the employer has no other option but to give in to her demands.

What are your top take-away points from these two stories? I would like you to pitch in and state your take away. Meanwhile I’ll state mine:

  1. Politeness:  I learnt the lesson of politeness from the first story. She needn’t have done the extra chores to keep me happy. She didn’t have to ask me politely. But she did those anyway, why? Because she wanted an assured result. She wanted to do everything possible in a legal and ethical way to ensure her success. Isn’t that what we all want in our professional lives too? We also want a hike, we also want promotions.

    So how do you go about achieving that? By being polite.

    Yes, you work hard, you work with dedication, you surpass yourself in your efforts but you also try to be polite. There is nothing to lose in being polite except maybe your ego but apart from that you only stand to gain by being polite at all times. Does it mean you suck up to your boss? No it just means when you assert yourself for a cause, do so politely and see the difference. My own experiences have proved that being polite gets things done faster than when you ask as if they are obliged to do things for you. Even if it’s your right and they are totally obliged to give you, ask politely. It feels good when your employer is more than happy to give you your hike.

  2. Kindness: Do you get the feeling that I was manipulated by my maid in giving her a raise? Probably yes, but the difference here is I did not resent getting manipulated because she was polite and totally kind in her manipulation.
    • She did not give me the ultimatum: “Give me a raise or I’ll quit”, that is very unkind, especially when she knows that this is my hour of need.
    • She did not slack in her work and tell me “You’ll get sub-standard work if you don’t pay me higher” that is another level of meanness.

    How many of these instances can you relate with, in your work place?

    Does that mean you never quit your job for a better opportunity?

    No, quit by all means, if you are unhappy with your work or workplace, but do so with consideration. The below steps give you examples on how you can be considerate even when you quit the company:

    • Be kind towards your team mates and company. For example: Don’t stop doing your bit just because you have quit.
    • Don’t influence the colleagues who are staying, by cribbing.
    • Do not put your team mates or colleagues in a position where they have to clear up you mess.
    • Be kind and polite towards your manager and colleagues. Quitting is your decision and your responsibility. Do not dump the blame on others.
    • Never burn the bridges with your colleagues and managers. These very same people might help you when you have gained a different perspective.
    • Never ever neglect your work or responsibility because you are not happy with your job.  Quitting the job is better than being negligent with your work and being a bad worker.

    All in all be polite and kind with yourself and others. Recipe of life will be much easier and better with a pinch of politeness and kindness in it. There is much more to us than being employed somewhere. Kindness and politeness shows that extra thing about us in the work place.

    Do share with me your tryst with Politeness and Kindness and how you relate that your workplace. It will help me in my mission of being a polite and considerate employee and person.

2 thoughts on “2 Workplace behavior tips I picked up from my maid”

  1. This is a pretty good one. real example of unskilled employee who does her job with utmost dedication and care and at the same time demands rightfully what she deserves. Indeed, a learning for the white collared professionals. Well written…

    1. @Gopala,
      Thanks for your comment. That was exactly the point of this blog post. We can get lessons from anybody, every person has some virtue or quality that we admire and try to emulate.

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