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May 18, 2011 09:40 AM

Hosting: Where does hospitality end...

...and ego begin?

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  1. It's all about attitude.

    1. Hospitality means pleasing your guest/s. Ego is held in abeyance.

      1 Reply
      1. re: igorm

        I respectfully disagree that ego is held in abeyance. One's ego is the reason one bends over backwards to please the guests. No one wants to be considered a poor host.

        1. What makes you think they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum?

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I didn't mean to imply that they're mutually exclusive or at opposite ends, as you put it.

            I actually think there's some intersection, and then perhaps a fine line one can cross where the desire to to be considered a consummate host, and actions taken in that pursuit, actually get in the way of guests' comfort.

          2. My flip answer is that hospitality is practiced by genuine extraverts who want to make their guests feel good, whereas ego can be "practiced" by anyone who wants to make themselves look good. But really, an example is the best definition.

            When I lived in Texas, I had a good friend who was probably the most hospitable person I have ever known. She just loved to have people over, and made us feel like honored guests every time. Her house was never perfectly clean, and her food was never elaborate or beautiful. It was just tasty.

            I remember one dinner party when I came over early to help her get ready. She had a massive pile of dirty laundry in the hallway off her foyer, so she asked, "Would you mind just kicking that into the laundry room? If it doesn't all fit, just throw it in the garage. I'd hate for someone to trip on it on the way to the powder room."

            Her relaxed, doesn't-have-to-be-shiny-perfect attitude really put guests at ease. No one wants to go to a home where they feel unworthy of the environment or the food. That's what ego does.

            16 Replies
            1. re: Isolda

              I say to people who are worried about how their house looks, people come to my house for the food, wine and company. If they came to see how clean it was, they can go home.

              1. re: Isolda

                Thanks for sharing this story, Isolda. Made me smile.

                I think one of the best things I brought back to CA from my year in Boise, ID was just this kind of friendly, unguarded, unpretentious hospitality. Not that I can't enjoy a more formal meal in someone's home, but I find I have the best time when the host treats me more like friend than guest.

                1. re: Isolda

                  A relaxed, at ease attitude goes a long way towards setting a comfortable environment!

                  One quibble, I don't feel hospitality is limited to extroverts. Introverts are quite able to offer sincere hospitality too. There are as many ways to be hospitable as there are people practicing it!

                  Hospitality is motivated by genuine caring for your guests experience. Ego is motivated by how the host is perceived.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      I agree. But as an introvert, I do think extraverts have an easier time. I can be hospitable, but I have to gear up for it a bit more. Otherwise, it would be all too easy to spend the entire time in the kitchen cooking and washing up while my husband is left to do the entertaining.

                    2. re: Isolda

                      Two days later and I'm still mulling is over.

                      Human personalities are often categorized as extroverts and introverts. Now there are genuine extraverts, and everyone else who cannot practice hospitality but only ego.

                      Are there no introverts who do in fact want to make their guests feel good?

                      I agree that we all enjoy hospitality when it seems effortless and when the effort mirrors just what the guest prefers to feel welcome. But I can't agree that a personality trait -- unavailable to 20-30% of the population -- is a necessary & sufficient condition for hospitality, any more than I could agree that an unsuccessful effort is therefore ego..

                      1. re: KTFoley

                        You and I might define 'introvert' differently. Some of the most conscientious, caring, and thoughtful people I know are introverts, at least in terms of personality testing (sort of a can of worms).

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Cowboyardee, I think that you and I are on the same page, and maybe Isolda had something else in mind when she said that "hospitality is practiced by genuine extraverts."

                          1. re: KTFoley

                            Yeah, I misread you KT. Sorry bout that.

                      2. re: Isolda

                        Nice example Isolda. Your point is very well taken. I am an introvert myself and I do want to make my guests feel good though. Maybe one of the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is who they tend to invite over.

                        1. re: Isolda

                          I love that attitude! I used to torture myself trying to have everything perfect for guests and ended up so stressed and miserable that I couldn't enjoy the company of my friends or family. I have relaxed quite a bit over the years...I am sure some would say too much! My rules now are clean bathrooms and clean kitchen (not neat necessarily, just not a health hazard). I have a lot more fun this way!

                            1. re: Sue in Mt P

                              True enough. And now that I don't feel compelled to try and be something I can't, I have a lot more fun. I just had a house full of people for Memorial Day and did not have time to do any meaningful cleaning ahead of time. I told my guests that the bathrooms were clean, the kitchen was sanitary, but I made no promises about anything else.

                              1. re: jlhinwa

                                and you know what? For most people, that's enough. (meaning that most people don't expect more than that)

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  True enough. I finally had that epiphany after one too many times stressing out before having people over. I realized I never noticed or cared about the state of someone else's home unless the bathroom was truly disgusting or the kitchen looked like a breeding ground for foodborne illnesses. I'm so much more laid-back now.

                          1. re: Isolda

                            Isolda, I'm going to print this and show my husband- I love your post, thanks.