Lively communication in the service industry

Gaining insight into the customer’s perspective often occurs when one steps into the customer’s shoes, even if it’s in a different service industry. However, it’s crucial to remember that employees are individuals with their own needs. This brings us to a significant question: Should employees engage in lively and perhaps even boisterous conversations while confined to their workplace, where they might be the only sources of human interaction in an increasingly virtual world?

This realization struck me during an extended flight when I encountered an overly talkative cabin crew. It made me reflect on the predicament faced by health care staff, who constantly work in patient care areas, occasionally retreating to common breakrooms during short breaks, where privacy is often lacking. The contrast between the lively interactions of service industry employees and the potential isolation of health care workers highlights an intriguing dilemma.

Ironically, customers typically don’t grapple with this quandary in most service industries, unless their exuberant interactions become discomforting or disrupt the experience of others. As we contemplate the lively and loud discourse of service industry employees, intentionally or not, we must examine the concerns both for their work environment and their patrons.

First, employees might be oblivious to the perception that their innate liveliness can be interpreted as disruptive by others. Secondly, an assumed veil of security envelops their multilingual conversations, masking the fact that incomprehensible sounds can easily transform into noise for those on the receiving end, especially across language barriers. This misconception underscores the third point: the internal conflict between their intrinsic need for expansive communication and the expectation to channel their dialogue strictly for professional and collegial purposes.

The fourth point emphasizes an unforeseen consequence: the potential exposure of workplaces to breaches in security, both virtually and in reality. This vulnerability not only impacts the organization but also exposes employees to risks if their animated conversations inadvertently reach unintended ears, violating privacy agreements and confidentiality clauses.

Finally, it’s vital to recognize that despite the significant portion of time spent at work and the increasing blurring of boundaries between work and home, the two realms remain distinct. Workplaces, even those that mimic home environments, cannot replace the comfort of one’s own abode. As professionals in the service industry, it becomes imperative to leave behind the boisterous aspect of one’s self at the virtual and physical thresholds of the workplace.

Striking the right balance between lively communication and professionalism is paramount in service industries. As employees navigate their roles, they must be mindful of how their interactions are perceived by others and the potential consequences of inadvertently breaching privacy and security barriers. Recognizing that workspaces and personal spaces are separate entities underscores the need for employees to leave their exuberance outside the doors of their workplaces.

Deepak Gupta is an anesthesiologist.

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