January 29, 2006 11:19 PM
Employees regulate emotions to meet our emotional work requirements. But, how do they do it? Research suggests there are two primary ways employees attempt to "act nice." We will deal with the first (surface acting) in this blog entry and the second (deep acting) in the next.
In surface acting, agents modify and control their emotional expressions without trying to change anything "inside." For example, they may "turn on a smile" (whether face-to-face or over the phone) when in a bad mood or when interacting with a difficult customer. Their mood isn't changed and they don�t feel any differently about the customer - they are simply acting positively in the interaction.
Surface acting may produce a great result in a specific interaction and may be the appropriate solution on a periodic basis, but research suggests that, over time, the agent may be subject to all the effects of emotional dissonance (described in an earlier blog) including:
- greater stress,
- detachment (not only from one's true feelings but also from other people's feelings), and
- less of a feeling of personal accomplishment (if the employee believes that the display was not effective or was met with annoyance by the customer).
So, when employees "fake" their emotional expressions at work, they may distance themselves from customers and (as research indicates) start treating customers as objects. That scary proposition could be the cause of many customer dissatisfying moments!
And, not only might we see a decrease in customer satisfaction; but also a decrease in employee satisfaction due to a feeling of diminished personal accomplishment.
So, how do we help our agents long term? That's the topic of my next blog!