why people lash out at service workers
Global – “Somehow, I got so enraged that I was swearing at him,” says Caitlin, who lives in Oregon, USA. She explains that she wanted to break the contract over the phone, but the company representative continued to speak in scripted lines.
People who work in the service sector often become the object of others’ aggression. Whether we want to admit it or not, most people mistreated service workers. We are often rude to flight attendants, cashiers, and baristas. And usually, this rudeness is not called out by these people or is out of their control. While people have always taken their frustrations out on service workers, the data shows that such actions have increased over the past few years. A study by the Customer Service Institute found that more than half of customer service employees have reported an increase in cases of abuse since the start of the pandemic.
This kind of bad customer behavior doesn’t automatically mean someone is a bad person (although it doesn’t rule it out). Experts say understanding why people lash out at service workers is critical to changing behavior and giving these overworked employees a break.
Why do customers and clients lash out?
A girl who worked in a famous electronic store tells a story that happened to her: “A particular client had walked in with an already irritated look on her face and asking that everyone in the store attended to her, I in particular. Still being an employee in training, I’d referred her to a more experienced hand,” -the girl says and adds that this only aroused the indignation of the woman – “I remember struggling to maintain a calm composure and attending to her needs, which only further infuriated her and earned me more insults. I was worried. Her threats seemed very real especially as I wondered who she really was, everyone feeling bullied.”
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“When things are slightly off, or don’t happen the way we expect, it causes natural anxiety.” says Rina B. Patel, a psychologist and behavioral analyst in San Diego. She explains that, as a general rule, people are quite inflexible, so when routines change, it can make people nervous and aroused. This is clearly seen when people are standing in a long line. Clients have a feeling that the schedule of the day may go astray. This may all seem insignificant, but imagine that you sat down in a cafe expecting to wait 15 minutes for an order, and instead had to wait 45 minutes. Your whole day’s routine has changed.
Verbal abuse also happens in business, because there is a cliché “the customer is always right” and this somehow serves as an excuse for some customers to be rude towards their service providers.