Manners & Misdemeanors
The Truly Rich Lady's Guide to Managing Household Help
As master and commander of your home, is it better to be feared or loved?
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons / Pexels / Kristine - Flickr
ILLUSTRATOR Yzabella Cruz
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Today, I decided to recreate the all-hands staff meeting that Queen Elizabeth called recently. She was just going to announce that she had acquired a new corgi (or did she?) and that Prince Philip would be retiring soon, but she decided to do it in a sudden and delicious manner, sending panic around the world.

So I told my own team (all nine of them) that I would be announcing something important at five in the morning in the yellow room. They probably thought I was going to give them another mid-year bonus, but I just wanted them to help me find my earrings. I had quite a laugh and I think that even if their faces crumpled from disappointment and lack of sleep, they enjoyed my joke, too. I even overheard our household chef instructing his assistant “to sharpen the knives” in jest. Ha. Still, I am not going anywhere near the kitchen today.

I know you are asking: How do you reach such a state of Zen with the people that help you? I will tell you.

As master and commander of your home, is it better to be feared or loved?

I think it is better to laugh. An eager housekeeper recently organized the bits and bobs scattered pell-mell in my gifting room and now I cannot find anything like my Emergency Clown Nose! But even if I was very annoyed, I did not release a bevy of crackling curses. Instead, I reminded her that this room is a designated creative zone, which follows a unique organization method called The Piling of Things. I also told her to find my earrings in five seconds…

That was just a joke. I’m not a monster; I gave her 10 seconds. But really, it is best to be on the side of nice. This is as simple as knowing the name of Housekeeper No. 5 (Darling of the Two Rivers), greeting her with a smile, engaging her in meaningful but short conversations, and gifting her with trinkets like an Emergency Clown Nose. 

What is the proper way to address these people? The help? My staff? Them? Psst?

Their proper names should suffice. I think you may be mistaking your household staff for captive laborers, which they are not. They are professionals who provide professional service and should be then treated in a professional manner. Darling and the rest of my household staff receive a generous wage plus all the benefits mandated by law as arranged by my senior accountant. Their work hours are also reasonable; their vacations available (as long as the timing is good); and their available snacks varied and endless.

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Should I consider my household staff as friends or even family?

This can happen. I know of one Truly Rich Woman who considers her manang her mother for the simple reason that she and the rest of her siblings spent more time under her care than her dragon mom’s. It may sound sad, but it was really the plump little lady who soothed her worries away when she flunked an algebra test or broke up with a horrid boy. Now, my friend makes sure that her manang has all she needs, including the things she insists that she does not need like regular visits to the dentist and a car.

I am constantly putting out fires at home. Help me.

I know of this new and fabulous operation called Abueli Home Concierge that trains household staff to perfection. I think of them as wizards that make the running of your house efficient. Aside from training your staff so that they know exactly what you like (I like all my tables set with a spray of red peonies cut to a certain length and arranged in Rosenthal vases, for instance), they can help manage daily operations such as the dreaded task of cleaning out your pantry or technical things like managing the payroll, you know, the way my senior accountant does (they can even help your staff open bank accounts). “In short,” says founder Andrea Lanuza, “we take on as much of home managing as we are able to so that your days at home feel more like a staycation.” Which is exactly how I like to feel when I am not somewhere else on vacation. 

Is it necessary to provide promotions to, say, an assistant?

We should certainly let them grow alongside us as what happened to Organic Condiment Heiress and her assistant, a plucky young woman whom she rescued from the front desk of a health club. Their relationship flourished over time, through thick and thin, tantrums and heartbreak, business ventures and mustard stains. When OCH took over the family business, who else did she appoint as COO of the enterprise but her capable and loyal assistant?

Why should I be nice to these people? I pay them.

Our driver, who has been with us since I was a Truly Rich Young Girl, knows all my secrets: drunken ramblings, gossip, what I really think about this person or that, every time I picked my nose, and other misdeeds like the revenge shopping trip I took last month. But because I treat him with respect, care, and generosity, I am never afraid that he will one day write a tell-all book titled Crazy, Rich Bosses: Driving Around a Looney with Serious Money. Fortunes can be made and unmade in a blink, so it pays to be nice to everyone, especially those who know all about you.

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