The supplement in last weekend’s Dom Post in Wellington (Saturday 26 January 2013) had a feature about the terrible customers that turn up in hospitality settings and the often equally nasty things some workers do to get back at them. It was a story full of horror and negativity.
People who work in customer service, especially in hospitality can get jaded. Customers can be very difficult especially if they are affected by alcohol in bars and restaurants or highly anxious such as when travelling.
How you deal with anyone depends on your attitude. If you look at your difficult customers as problems and give them nasty labels then it will be hard to see them in a positive light. This will make life difficult for you because you see yourself surrounded by negative people.
If you look at your customers as real people, who may be stressed, anxious or for some reason have had too much to drink then you create something different in your own attitude. If you think of all people you meet as each having a life beyond what you see you will create a more positive frame of mind. You can focus on their goodness rather than on their faults, even when you might see hundreds of people in one day.
Even when you have a positive attitude, dealing with the public and difficult people can still be stressful. To avoid being overwhelmed by the difficulties, make sure you take time to debrief every so often. Talk about how you feel with someone who will listen to you and not judge you. Don’t deny how you feel, but when you acknowledge and accept your feelings as your own, you are much less likely to want to retaliate against difficult customers.
First posted by John Faisandier on 30th January, 2013