Bullying: Tale of Two Hotels
By Lynn Grigas
Once upon a time there were two hotels. In one it was the "Best of Times" and the other the "Worst of Times." Both hotels offered exceptional ambiance, comfort, and many amenities placing both of them in the class of luxury and highly rated places to stay for business travelers and other guests.
Both hotel managements were rightly focused on policies that enhance their reputations of both service and hospitality, magnified by their aversion to negative postings in "Trip Advisor."
The "The Best of Times" hotel established a policy that 100% supported any employee who is subjected to unwarranted verbal, physical abuse, harassment, and bullying inclusive of a guest using derogatory racial epithets.
Carolyn was an Assistant Front Desk Manager for a prestigious name brand hotel with 15 years' experience in the hospitality industry. Recently she was confronted by an older couple of whom the husband was clearly miserable and his intention was to make everyone else miserable as well.
Unfortunately, in the world of travelers there are a small percentage of guests who are misery addicts, they are addicted to their misery, there is no way to please them and the harder the effort the more miserable and belligerent they may become.
The wife of this guest remained silently by his side as her husband's loud and argumentative attitude ordered Carolyn around demeaning her with his comments about the miserable service. The corporate-preference guests waiting in line behind them became nervous and somewhat anxious observing and hearing the hostility emitting from this guest. They sighed in disbelief and showed compassion for Carolyn having to deal with this negative encounter.
The "miserable guest" continued for 3 to 4 minutes of a tirade that seemed endless with false criticisms and negative rant. Carolyn remained composed. She took a long deep breath and smiled at the guest making good eye contact. She advised the guest that it was very unlikely that the guest would enjoy the stay at the hotel and she could not accommodate them.
The "miserable guest" was completely thrown off-balance especially as two of the waiting in-line guests "cheered" Carolyn's decision.
Without another word being said, the offending party left the premises. Since all front-desk activity in this hotel was video and audio recorded, later that day Carolyn reviewed the "event" with the General Manger who 100% supported her actions.
The airlines may have it "right". Most have a policy whereby an abusive or bullying passenger who "acts out" at check-in is denied boarding.
Similarly, most restaurants and bars have an established policy that reserves their right to refuse service.
In the "Worst of Times" hotel the General Manger managed the place from a remote location and was rarely on the premises. The Front Desk Administrative Assistant Cindy was not empowered to make any decisions regarding the abuse or mistreatment by employees or guests. Cindy felt disempowered because the unspoken rule was to make accommodations no matter how you were treated. The motto was "just grin and bear it." This made for many "Worst of Times" in this high end luxury hotel.
The disempowered employee's felt higher levels of stress, it made for an unpredictable work environment, and occasionally would erupt as fatigued front desk employees took their stress and tensions out on one another.
The result, a frequent changing of the Front Desk personnel, higher cost of training and re-training and hiring personnel for the Front Desk, and a lack of consistency and streamlining of excellent delivery of customer services.
Without clear policies, training on how to handle miserable guests, and a caring attitude the hotel employees in the "Worst of Times" did not experience being cared for resulting in a lack of caring attitudes in the hotel. It became, "If they don't care, why should I?" attitude.
Most guests no matter how bad can be turned around or at least placated enough to get checked in and on their way. One of the 12 Tools is maintaining the "Attitude Advantage" and staying 'resilient.' We stay 'resilient' by paying attention to our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and remembering to do our self-care. Having a supportive and caring staff and management team certainly helps.
In the "Best of Times" hotel they still had incidents of bullying, misery addicts, harassment, and negative encounters but they handled them in a completely different way. Empowerment was a part of the key, and shared mutual and collaborative empowerment. The hotel employees felt cared for and thus exhibited a greater caring towards the guests and one another. An in the "Best of Times" hotel they lived happily ever after.
By Gay Lynn Grigas, MA Psy.
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