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Implicit threat from helper?

  1. #1
    Biggie is offline Registered User
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    Implicit threat from helper?

    We like our helper a lot. We just renewed her contract in november so she has been wirh us about 2.5 yr. She is great with our kid and baby, kind, and hardworking. I am not a chatty or easy to warm up person, so I'd say we have a good "business" relationship.
    Today, she told my mom (who comes to our house a lot and is more like a " friend" to her) that she wanted to quit because she is tired and is always forgetful. She said she want to go back home to rest. She also said she hasn't told me yet but just wanted to tell my mom about it. My mom, of course, told me about it. My mom told her it's prob just stress cos we just had a new baby and we moved so lots of work.
    This happened after her day off yesterday(she has Saturdays off), and I remember I made a couple comments to her the day before: on one occasion, I sternly reminded her to refill the diaper box next to the changing table if she is the one who used the last diaper there. I mentioned I've pointed that out before and pls remember in the future (otherwise it's a hassle/danger if you open up the baby then need to walk away to get diapers). On another occasion, she put on the kettle just before I need to use the stove to make dinner and I certainly looked annoyed. She offered to take away the kettle and I said " no, because then you might forget to bring it to boil later and leave the water in the kettle and tomorrow I'd think it's cooked water in the kettle and use it.". And I have in the past, and she admitted too , that she always forget things, like where she put sth, or some of my instructions. We now have a whiteboard on fridge where I write things down.
    So, my thinking is, that she is basically upset at my comments and hence threatened to quit by saying it to my mom. She knows my mom will tell me. And she knows we need helper at home with a toddler, a small baby and a dog. I dont believe she actually can quit am go home cos her son just started college and her daughter will go to college soon so she need the money. (btw, she is in her 40s).
    I really think we treat her well. I don't treat her as a friend but I don't raise my voice at her. Granted I sometimes look dissatisfied at sth though I might not say anything cos I don't think it's her fault ( but I can't hide my expression!) we pay her generous bonus twice a year, free trip home for family business twice.
    Sorry for the long story. Do you think she is just threatening to quit as a tactic? Should I confront her about her conversation with my mom or just wait and see if she bring it up to me? I don't want to change helper unless we have to.
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  2. #2
    bagel is offline Registered User
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    In my view, your helper is being passive aggressive. You treat her professionally and generously in my perspective (based on your description) and she should treat you the same. In other words, she should act like a professional and convey to her employer directly (which is you, not your mom) what her intentions or concerns are. We are not in kindergarten here that information should trickle down to you the employer through third parties. Geeezzz

  3. #3
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    I think that since you're not worried about keeping a "friendship" between you and your helper, what I'd do is confront her directly and say something like, "So, I hear you're thinking about quitting..." Just be straight with her. Even if she's being a bit passive aggressive (which is the tendency of many helpers--it's a cultural thing) as her employer, you need to be the "grown up" and set things straight.

    If I were you, I'd say, "Look, I realize that it's been a lot more work lately and that I'm not the most cheerful and pleasant boss sometimes [c'mon, if we were all to be honest, most of us would have to admit that we aren't either]. I know that you're a tired from the move and taking care of a new baby. I'm sorry for snapping at you sometimes and also I just want you to know that I am really thankful you're here. But, if you have a problem, you really do need to talk to me directly. If you talk to me directly it makes me respect you and I know that I can trust you. Also, if there is a problem, if you talk to me then we can work on a solution which makes both of our lives better."

    I think that what your helper is trying to tell you is that she is trying her hardest but is feeling like all she hears is complaints. It's almost like she's fishing for a compliment. For example, sometimes when I'm feeling fat or ugly, I say it out loud to my husband or a friend like, "Wow, I just look so fat in these clothes!" Then of course, what I'm expecting is for them to tell me, "Oh, you're not fat" or "You look good!" It's an indirect way of asking for someone to help you with your self esteem.

    Maybe what she's really asking for is more praise and less complaining from you? You said that you give your helper bonuses and trips back home etc.--do you also make it a point to tell her when she's doing a good job or thank her regularly for what she's doing? Maybe it's not such a big deal with many families in HK but positive verbal feedback is important--at least in some countries. I think that practical rewards like what you provide are important but it's just as important to show gratitude for hard work.

    I rarely get angry or snap at my helper (same can't be said for my husband, though...ooops) --there is only one time I lost my temper with her and it wasn't her fault, actually. I felt so bad that I bought her flowers and chocolate to apologize. I am really blessed to have such a good helper and I try to imagine what kind of chaos our lives (with a 3-year-old, 3-week-old, bunny, two cats and living in a village that is pretty isolated) would be like without her. She is also trustworthy, cheerful and hardworking. Just talk to anyone on this forum who has a helper they can't trust or is looking for a good helper but can't find one--good helpers are worth their weight in gold so we'd better treat them kindly or we may lose them.

  4. #4
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    totally agree with thanka!

  5. #5
    Shenzhennifer is offline Registered User
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    Tactic.
    If it were me personally, I'd be annoyed. I would either ignore it completely, which might annoy her bc it would show her that her tactic didn't work. OR I would confront her to ask when she is leaving as a replacement needs to be found asap.
    I'm not sure about the nature of your relationship and how you treat her, but if you have no regrets, then I would say she's just being passive aggressive.

  6. #6
    anotherone is offline Registered User
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    I am one of those people who "has a helper whom she can't trust and is always seeking a good helper" as referred to by Thanka. (Read my other post if you wanna feel my pain)

    Just want to add that you need to find out from her what her intentions are asap, considering how long it might take for you to find a new one that's any good. Nothing wrong in keeping things business-like, and you definitely don't want to be at the mercy of the helper's latest thoughts and ideas (which seem to change daily if not hourly!)

  7. #7
    Biggie is offline Registered User
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    I spoke to her this morning and she told me she wanted to go home cos she felt her body is getting weaker. I asked about her children's school fees and she said he got some scholarship from government now. So I guess it wasn't a tactic. I need to find a new helper now....

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