There’s a lot of learning involved in service, and especially in anticipatory service.
There’s learning the M-type’s preferences and priorities. All of them. Even the ones they’re not consciously aware of, or don’t think to communicate. And learning them to a point where remembering them is automatic. And knowing and understanding the “why” if it matters. And incorporating them whenever possible. And… sometimes preferences and priorities change.
There’s thoroughly learning the “technical skills” you might not have yet. Cleaning, cooking, errands, laundry, yard work, travel, secretarial, personal care. And fine tuning those skills based on those preferences.
There’s (in anticipatory service) learning about their subconscious and sometimes nigh invisible cues. An extra split second of looking at a cup when it’s nearing empty. A ghost of a smile that indicates they like what you just did. It’s knowing what they want that they might not even know they want (at least yet). And those cues can also change. It’s knowing them and their boundaries well enough to know what kind of anticipatory service is acceptable and desirable.
In anticipatory service, my goal is to do the things that Mistress wants before she calls, “Slave!” or hits the pager transmitter button.
So how do I determine what those things are in an anticipatory style?
1. Do things they’re going to ask for, before they ask. For example: fix problems. Big problems might be more involved, but there are plenty of small problems that can be solved immediately. Like the toilet paper roll ran out, or there’s a spill in the kitchen. Try to address things like that right away, and try to figure out how to prevent future problems, or make them easier to solve when they come up (store extra toilet paper in the bathroom, have a towel ready in the kitchen). Basically, don’t wait for them to remind you to treat something as necessary. You can see their glass of water is almost empty or that you’re missing a needed event supply without them saying anything—fill the glass now, acquire the supply now.
2. Do (or offer to do) things they might not think to ask for at all. Regularly think of what you could be doing to make their life easier that they might not think of. It could be a once off task or a new standing order. If it can reasonably just be done, then you can just do it before they get to it. If you think you should talk to them about it first, then do that. Think of things around holidays (wrapping?), trips (packing?), and things like that. Look at what seems to give them stress or frustration or disruption. If there’s a repeating task you see them getting distracted from more important things by, offer to handle it on the same schedule.
3. Improve their processes and environments (and yours). Make things a little more convenient or a little prettier in some way (and, note what they think makes something more convenient or pretty). Organize things around the house. Eliminate nuisances. Do minor redecorating. Get related supplies in one place. Improve the lighting. Automate things.
4. Devote yourself, on your own, to learning those technical skills they want, keeping track of those preferences, and doing your own relevant self-improvement (growth cannot be overstated).
Anticipatory service is a lot of learning, a lot of work—and one of my favorite things.