Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2018, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

“I have been placed in a situation that I am uncertain how to deal with, and I sincerely hope you can provide me with some direction. My principal is celebrating a milestone birthday this year and has decided to have a lavish event and invite family, friends and co-workers. The principal informed me yesterday that he’d like me to participate in an on-camera interview later this evening to share ‘anecdotes, roast him, funny stories’ and anything else that would be amusing. I find this to be a great conflict of interest as I am the only member of the household staff who has been asked to participate and I would desperately like to decline. However, my principal is very insistent that this will be a fun experience.

“I tried wrapping my head around this last night, but every instance I think of that could be considered funny involves personal situations that I do not 1) feel comfortable discussing in such a public setting, and 2) what about the NDA I signed? Even if I keep my response flattering and paint him in a gracious light, I think I will sound like a paid advertisement amongst his friends and family who will undoubtedly roast him. I feel that my participation in this is setting me up to fail. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it.”

Ed: What an interesting conundrum. My thought, if I were in your position, would be to list the stories/anecdotes I would like to mention, and fly them by the principal with reference to the NDA and also his willingness for these incidents to be aired publically. If he is fine on these being mentioned, then on the basis that they would include some roasting, per his invitation, you could not be accused of offering a puff piece. But at the same time, the way you express them would still allow you to relay the experiences and perceptions with grace, as befits a) your position, b) your personality, c) your employer’s feelings, and d), your continued employment! Either the employer really does want an open forum, with himself as the butt of the jokes, or he has not really thought the thought through. Flying the incidents you’d like to mention by him will give him a chance to reconsider in the cold light of day.

“Thank you very much for your quick reply and brilliant suggestion. I did as you recommended and unfortunately, my principal did not reply before my interview. I decided to make some small attempts at humor and was otherwise very discreet in my responses to the questions asked by the interviewer. My principal has still not replied to my email and I think, if anything, it’s allowed him to see the situation he placed me in and explain my reluctance to participate.  It will be interesting to see if my interview is pulled from the others or if anything I say makes the cut. Thank you again for your assistance.”

Ed: I think you played it well: not burning any bridges while, at the same time, playing along with your employer’s wishes. I hope you make the cut.

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