When the guest makes you cry...
Crying is a natural part of life. Regardless of whether you’re male or female, it’s common to cry when you’re sad, frustrated, angry or feel helpless. Tears are just an emotional reaction to stressors that almost all of us have experienced at one point or another, yet most of the time, it’s best to try not to cry at work.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s about crying at work in her book Lean In: “Crying happens,” she says. “Emotions, after all, were developed as survival mechanisms; they’re hardwired into our biology. Rather than spending time beating ourselves up for crying, we should accept the act as part of what it means to be a human, emotional being who, by the way, doesn’t shut off at 9 a.m. when the clock starts.”
But keeping your composure at work can sometimes be difficult, especially when your job is on the front lines at a hotel and you deal with guests all day or night. Horror stories about the meanest, rudest and most ridiculous abound. You probably have a few of your own. From those who yell and berate to those who refuse to listen to reason and disparage any attempt to satisfy, it’s quite possible they’ve brought a tear to your eye. Here’s how to handle the next one who is bad enough to make you cry.
If at all possible, squash your tears. When a tense situation with a guest (or even a co-worker or supervisor) threatens to make you cry, try pinching the bridge of your nose. Experts suggest that the minor pain this causes will act as a distraction and may stop the flow of tears. It’s also an innocuous gesture and likely to go unnoticed by whoever you’re dealing with.
If that doesn’t work, you may find it helpful to take a physical step back from the person who is troubling you. Distancing yourself from their drama, even by just a few inches, can help you regain control of the emotions you’re feeling in the moment and prevent a tearful outburst.
You may need to excuse yourself. In the event that you still feel that you might cry, it’s best to get away. Tell the guest you’ve been dealing with that you’ll need to continue the discussion later or that there’s nothing else you can do for them right now. Ask a co-worker to take over if there are other guests waiting for service. Then find a private area, like the restroom or an empty hallway, and allow yourself to release those pent-up tears. Once you’ve done so, you’re likely to feel much less stressed and can clean yourself up and get back to work.
Some experts suggest that workplace tears can be spun in your favor. While not crying is always better than crying in most employment situations, a Harvard Business School experiment found that workers who blamed their tears on an emotional investment in their job were rated as more competent by their peers than those who blamed their crying on anything else. Instead of saying you cried because a guest was really mean, you might state that your emotional outburst was due to wanting so badly to satisfy even the hotel’s most unreasonable guests. Employers want workers who are so deeply dedicated and invested in their jobs that they sometimes feel emotional about them.
Remember, crying is unlikely to end your career unless you do it frequently. If you’re always crying at work, your employer may begin to believe that you can’t handle the stress that comes most hotel customer service positions. You may also be seen as manipulative if your crying tends to occur when you’ve been criticized or have to acknowledge making a mistake. However, if it’s a rare reaction to a particularly stressful encounter, you’re probably fine.