Zoran Marjanović, 43, moved to the United Kingdom 17 years ago and has since worked at a number of London’s five-star hotels. Two years ago he became concierge at Handyside Street’s Plimsoll Building, where he deals with all manner of requests from residents – always, he says, with a smile. He lives in London and has two small children.
In hotels you see guests maybe four or five times over their stay. With residential concierge you develop friendships with the tenants. Still the thing is to maintain a professional distance. It’s like being next to the fire: you can’t get so close that you get burnt, but you need to be close enough to feel the heat. You can sense when people want to make a connection. Some do. Some don’t.
There are several skills you need to be a good concierge: empathy, so you can understand the people you work for; listening, something my colleagues say I’m still learning because I’m not
good at letting people finish their sentences when I’m sure I already understand what they mean; and to do what’s asked of you as soon as possible, and if you can’t, to explain why.
I’ve had a resident call me from the airport asking me to look for his passport in his flat. He wanted me to go through his drawers and I found it in with his socks and underwear. It was slightly
awkward for me, even with his permission. But he made his flight.
Everyone rushes, and they expect you to rush too but I’ve learned to slow down. My life is family, friends and work. I give myself 100 per cent to work while I’m working, and my time with family
deserves the same focus. Sometimes jobs can’t just be about the money. You can’t buy back lost time.
Start each day remembering it’s a new day, and expecting it to be wonderful. I was an army officer in the former Yugoslavia during the wars and when you’ve seen the things I’ve seen, after that it’s hard to think of anything else as bad or difficult. I’m grateful for those experiences and for the positivity it’s given me, though thankfully I’ve also developed a way of burying bad memories. There are triggers of course, but it’s a useful skill.
All places change. London was much friendlier when I moved here. It’s not so easy to approach strangers in the street and expect help. That’s a problem across society really – we seem to be less kind, less polite people. Is there a way back? Maybe. The world needs more friendliness. It would suit London. While I don’t like its mountains of rubbish (liking order is a product of army life) I love that it’s a place so bursting with life, especially around King’s Cross.
In work as in life I find it’s best to avoid confrontation. Sometimes it’s just ego firing things up, so it’s easier to apologise even if it’s not your fault. It allows you to make a connection again. Best of all is sleeping on it before discussing the issue, if you can. You can’t have a conversation with someone whose head is spinning. That’s not avoidance; it’s timing.