We interviewed dozens of families, are here are some of the things that they shared that they don’t quite know how to communicate to helpers. Why so difficult? Some are just things that are hard to admit to, some are things that they are not aware of until asked to reflect…
Communication is of course the heart of success for any relationship, so we are sharing these in the spirit of making it a touch easier to understand the other’s perspective:
1. “It’s super hard to trust someone else to do what we are “supposed” to do ourselves –
a heavy blend between worry and guilt.”
The concern for safety was captured eloquently by author Elizabeth Stone:
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
The same of course applies to elderly parents or any relative or friend being cared for – the horrific fear that “if we chose the wrong person and something happens to our loved one(s), it will be all our fault”.
Then there is the guilt. The pervasive mindset that one needs to always be there for loved ones, and bringing in any outsider, no matter how loving and careful, is a betrayal. Never mind that in their minds, they understand that sometimes one needs to put the oxygen mask on oneselve and that exposure to others is a good thing on many levels for both kids and elderly – in North American hearts, it still feels wrong somehow.
Don’t take the questions you are asked personally. Sometimes good people get frustrated when asked to explain that they are indeed good. Families simply have to make sure they asked all that comes to mind, so they feel they have done all within their power to choose the right person.
2. “At the very moment we need to hire help, we are usually overwhelmed because we have no help.“
Therefore it takes time to reply, to schedule calls and interviews and make decisions. In the family’s busy-ness, they are not entirely aware of days and even weeks passing and the anxiety this creates in you who need to find a job. So so so sorry!!!
If a family hasn’t answered, give them a couple of days, then politely inquire.
3. “When hiring, we often don’t quite know what we looking for – we need your help to know that you will be the right person for the task.”
Families really appreciate helpers who make it easy to confirm the core skills required – care, patience, experience, reliability and willingness to help, as well as help understand how your presence would make family life better.
Taking the initiative to explain how are you special, what you can contribute to the household, what life experience made you interested in being of help to others and why you enjoy doing it, helps us get to know you better. It’s really appreciated! Your personal stories are the best.
4. “Helpers are employees AND members of the household – it’s tough to figure this out sometimes for both you and us. “
Figuring out when/how to include you in family life is tricky and so is remembering to do the things employers do (sometimes that is the only time we have ever employed anyone).
Offer to schedule regular check-ins every 2 to 4 weeks at the end of a day for example, to cover anything that may require a tactful approach – this is a great time to ask for feedback on how things are going,
share your perspective, suggest a change in how things are done and discuss schedules.
Wishing you success!