This is one of the most off-beat pieces I’m going to write because I’m so NOT an expert in the field of behavior control–or acting, as it’s called in one book I’m studying. I’m still learning. I did dream of becoming an actress when I was about ten years old, but I don’t think that counts.
Did you know that feeling one way and behaving a different way can be stressful? Yeah, I know, everyone knew that but me. For instance, if you’re angry with your boss or coworker or client, but you have to put on a happy face, that’s hard on you emotionally.
Now I know why I’m so stressed when dealing with the public, introvert that I am. I once broke out in a storm of perspiration when faced with a long line of readers at a book signing. It was great to see all those people lined up to get a copy of my book, but I still felt the stress when I pasted on a bright smile and took pictures and hammed it up. Remembering that stress helps me identify with the staff that works with us at our clinic.
Whether we deal with the public on a daily basis or hide away and work in seclusion most of the time, I think we occasionally find ourselves forcing a smile we don’t feel. Those of us who work in service fields are especially susceptible to burnout. The medical field is a very difficult one. It helps to be an extravert when working with others, and most of our staff members are extraverts, but it isn’t vital.
I’m taking a self-taught course in managing a medical staff, and I’m learning a lot. Among other books, I’ve been reading one titled Organisational Behaviour For Dummies, which, as you can probably tell by the spelling, was written by someone in the UK. I’ve been intrigued to learn that there are two different kinds of behavior upon which to draw when you want to leave a good impression in public.
There is a form of acting that is merely “faking it,” which means you paste on a smile you don’t feel, which looks obviously fake to others, and you tough it out. I read that this leaves you with the most amount of stress, and leaves the client/patient/customer with a poorer impression of you. In other words, with most people it’s obvious you’re faking. If you find yourself doing this often, check your stress level and see if you can learn a different way of dealing with people.
A business in the service industry thrives on meeting the needs of others with kindness and consideration. No matter how we feel about our lives at the moment, strangers on the street, customers, patients, and clients all need to see a face of genuine compassion and kindness from us, so forcing a fake smile doesn’t help anyone.
The other form of friendly behavior when dealing with the public is deep acting, when you dig deeply into your heart and try to identify with another person. Although this, too, is stressful, it apparenly isn’t as damaging to the psyche. Sure, you can take on so much of another person’s pain and suffering that you’re affected long after she’s gone, but genuine compassion and kindness goes a long way toward helping not only your own stress, but it leaves the other person feeling validated. Feelings of kindness and compassion far surpass feelings of resentment and impatience.
Working in the medical field calls for sincere compassion for people, and I can see the stress in the faces of our staff when we’ve had a busy day, or when we’ve had patients in a lot of pain or are even facing death. That stress is worse when we have antagonistic or demanding patients, and it makes for a stressful work environment for everyone. Calling up compassion for bullies is very difficult, indeed–and something for all of us to remember when WE become the demanding or angry patient. Keep in mind that a gentle answer turns away wrath. It’s just difficult to bring up the compassion to keep that answer gentle in the face of animosity.
A well-known psychologist recently remarked that if you work in the service industry–especially if you’re responsible for staff in the medical field–you need to learn how to physically leave the problems of others at the door as you walk out. When I take my badge off and prepare to go home at night, I try to physically leave the stressors, the pain, the staff worries and upsets with that badge on the desk. It’s a work in progress.