I want to send Doctor Zapf some flowers...Read on_____________________________
Being friendly to customers makes you ill: study
16 March 2006
FRANKFURT - People who have to smile all the time in their jobs are more likely to fall ill than others, according to a study.
Most at risk are flight attendants, sales personnel and call centre operators who are forced to pretend to be friendly to customers, psychologists at Frankfurt University said.
People in these jobs are more likely to suffer from depression, according to the study released Thursday in advance of publication in the consumer magazine Good Advice.
"Every time a person is forced to repress his true feelings, there are negative consequences for his health," said Professor Dieter Zapf, a researcher into human emotions.
The study tested students working in an imaginary call centre who were subject to abuse from clients. Some of the participants were allowed to answer back, while others had to be polite and friendly all the time.
Those who stood up to clients had a rapid heartbeat for a brief period, but for those who had to remain friendly their heart was still racing long after the client had hung up.
The conclusion reached by the psychologists was that being friendly against one's will causes nothing but stress.
Flight attendants, shop assistants and caregivers also took part in the study of emotional behavior, which involved 4,000 people, according to Zapf.
"We are all able to reign in our emotions," Zapf said. "It becomes difficult when you have to do this over a protracted period as cabin attendants are forced to on long-haul flights.
"These people need space away from the passengers where they can be on their own and let their feelings run free.
"We have to get away from the 'customer is king' attitude and show more respect to those working in the service industries," Zapf said.