You know the expression, “the customer is always right?” Yeah, well that expression can go and get bent.
You can’t point out why the customer is wrong, dumb and shouldn’t be allowed to ever procreate. You’d be fired on the spot.
Instead, you have to exercise patience and force a smile. 90 percent of customer service is faking grins at people that don’t deserve them. And according to a study, it turns out this can lead to some serious issues….
Any woman who’s ever been catcalled (so basically all of them… ugh) knows how annoying it is being told to smile by a stranger.
A smile is something that should be earned, not given out because you’re told to.
Yet, in many jobs, it’s company policy to flash phony grins at all times, even when every instinct in your being is telling you to roll your eyes. As a result, self-medicating with alcohol is much more likely from these folk.
The study went on to show that heavier drinking brought on by fake smiles wasn’t caused by stress or negative emotions.
Instead, it was a matter of control. You’re on edge all day at work, so when you’re free, you want to let loose.
Grandey said, “It wasn’t just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”
What’s so bad about smiling? Can’t you fake it until you make it and convince yourself that you’re happy? Not according to the experts
“Smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing, but doing it all day can be draining,” Grandey said.
“In these jobs, there’s also often money tied to showing positive emotions and holding back negative feelings. Money gives you a motivation to override your natural tendencies, but doing it all day can be wearing.”
This isn’t all conjecture or hypotheses, either. This study is backed up by some rather impressive numbers.
For the study, the researchers used data that they gathered from phone interviews that included 1,592 United States workers.
The data came from a larger survey funded by the National Institutes of Health, called the National Survey of Work Stress and Health, which included almost 3,000 participants who were representative of the U.S. working population. And the data got pretty indepth
The data included information about how often the participants faked or suppressed emotions at work, also called “surface acting.”
The data also included how often and how much the participants drank after they were off the clock.
The researchers also measured how impulsive the participants are and how much autonomy they feel they have at work. The researchers ultimately found out that, overall, employees who interacted with the public drank more after work than those who did not.
So what type of jobs specifically lead to someone losing or lacking self-control and throwing back more booze after work?
The researchers found a stronger association between surface acting and drinking when employees who are highly impulsive also worked in jobs where employees have one-time service encounters.
This includes jobs like a call center or coffee shop, rather than relationships, like health care or education. If you only talk to someone the once, you don’t build a rapport and are likely to get angrier under the surface.
Age may also play a factor in these types of jobs and the level of boozing that goes on once the work day has ended.
Grandey said people in these jobs tend to be younger and in entry-level positions.
Therefore, they may “lack the self-control tendencies and the financial and social rewards that can buffer the costs of surface acting.” Makes sense. These types of positions are seen as stepping stones, so stress from them is doubly annoying.
So entry level jobs with younger employees who don’t see it as a full career can lead to excessive drinking.
But this isn’t the case with all professions, so don’t fear entering the work force. The best bet is to find jobs that you love.
According to Grandey, the results (which were recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology) suggest that surface acting is less likely to create problems when the work is personally rewarding to the employee.
You have to fake positivity at just about any job, but if you’re lucky enough to work in a field you love, it isn’t as bad.
“Nurses, for example, may amplify or fake their emotions for clear reasons,” Grandey said.
“They’re trying to comfort a patient or build a strong relationship. But someone who is faking emotions for a customer they may never see again, that may not be as rewarding, and may ultimately be more draining or demanding.”
So is this study really telling us anything that we all don’t already know?
Faking smiles can be stressful, and stress can lead to loss of self-control and that can lead to heavier drinking after work.
It makes enough sense, but now that there are concrete numbers on the matter, and a strong case that this correlation leads to the causation, this can hopefully be put to good use by employers who want to look out for the well-being of those who work for them.
Hopefully employers will take this to heart. Because communication with employees can be just as stressful as with customers.
“Eighty percent of the US workforce reports feeling stressed because of ineffective company communication, a 30 percent jump from just one year ago,” according to the new Dynamic Signal study.
About two-thirds of those surveyed said that they are ready to quit. The survey also found some 70 percent feel overwhelmed because of broken communication methods and fragmented information. What does this mean?
And those reasons are listed in higher paying jobs that don’t necessarily include constant customer interactions.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: It’s not healthy to suppress your emotions, whether you’re in the corporate or customer service fields.
Putting on a rictus (a fixed grimace or grin) to try and appease a co-worker or customer will only lead to drinking (and look disturbing af). We all want to be self-actualized and reach the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and won’t be able to do it this way. Here’s to hoping employees will let us all frown more often. That’d put a smile on our faces.