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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, not surprisingly, this question is a source of disagreement several places I've worked.<br><br><br><br>
At the college tutoring center, the director was strict about the tutors never talking in public about the students who come. Even if names aren't used, he didn't want anyone to put the pieces together and feel put-down. Some tutors were better at than others.<br><br><br><br>
In the kitchen at the nursing home, frustrating residents, family members and coworkers were a common topic of discussion. In fact, nurse aides would frequently come into the kitchen when they wanted to gripe about something from "out on the floor." I don't remember my manager ever addressing the issue.<br><br><br><br>
Now, at the newspaper, someone on Copy Desk wants the reporters to refrain from commenting on nutty people on our beats. "We sell a newspaper," she said. "We don't have some high and mighty place in the world. We sell a newspaper, and how can we expect people to buy it if we're criticizing them when they're not here?" On the other hand, when I first started here, I spent the first few months figuring out who was a credible source of information on my beat and who wasn't.<br><br><br><br>
I heard of a newspaper that had a "crazies board" where staff posted the kooky letters to the editor that are too far out there to be printed. (Yeah, you thought the ones that <i>did</i> get printed were reactionary.)<br><br><br><br>
I hear it's fairly common practice in restaurants for servers to talk about the customers once they get back to the kitchen. I remember revelsunrise telling us at a VeBoCon a few years ago the server at TGI Friday's was probably telling the cooks he has a whole table full of vegetarians, and won't this be a riot.<br><br><br><br>
So, what do you think? Does minding your own business mean keeping your mouth shut except when absolutely necessary?
 

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I talk about them. I had a big, long, funny, rant/laugh about customers at my work last night with a good friend of mine. You have to. One needs to blow off steam or one will just go flippin' crazy. I notice that it's all managers and diretors poo-hooing letting off steam. Let them deal with the crazies on a day-to-day basis before they say we can't do it.
 

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Oh yeah, I complain about them. Not when I'm on the floor though. I will do it in the breakroom, or after we've closed and I'm certain all customers are gone. There's no rule about it, just that we don't do it in front of them. I have to do it, considering some of the loonytoons i have to deal with. I feel better blowing off steam, and sometimes get good advice from people about how to handle the situation better next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Kiz, the person objecting to the talk at my current workplace is not a manager. Well, she's kind of her own boss, but she doesn't have anyone under her. She sort of reports to the same boss two people up from me, but the lines aren't clear. She doesn't deal with many members of the public face-to-face, but she gets a decent amount of nutso phone calls.
 

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Oh yeah I forgot to mention that at my call centre job, I was forbidden to talk about any respondents with anyone outside of work. Because ya never know, the person beside me in the coffee shop could be one of the clients who hired us to conduct these confidential surveys . . . . I was allowed to discuss it in the workplace/breakroom with other employees though.
 

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I think everyone does it. I know a lot of people in the medical field, and they do it even though they're forbidden by law (not gossip, of course. Generally they don't use names and the people they're telling the stories to don't know the patients). If you spend a lot of time with customers/patients, that's a significant part of your life and it's not reasonable to expect you to keep it all bottled up. It sounds like these employers are expecting their employees to be robots--get to work, leave your life behind, and pick up your life again on the way out the door.<br><br><br><br>
I've told stories about the people I interacted with (interviewees when I was a junior reporter, and fairgoers when I worked at the junior fair board desk) many times. Sometimes something so crazy happens that you just have to share the story because you can't believe it. Or sometimes you need to vent about an annoying customer. And I enjoy hearing these stories myself. Like Skylark said, sometimes it's good to know a little more about the "regulars" as well. I'd certainly like to know if a customer had a habit of flirting or sexually harassing female employees, for instance, so that I could avoid him. Or if a customer was suspected of trying to cheat someone out of change, I'd want to know so I could check the money beforehand.<br><br><br><br>
Wow, I'm incapable of writing a short post. And I just wrote a heap answer to a patch post. Okay, my short answer is "yes."
 

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I will answer 'yes' until the talking/laughing about turns into meanness or making fun of someone. It's one thing to turn to my co-worker and tell her about this crazy stalker guy who keeps calling, trying to solicit business by calling me beautiful, gorgeous, trying to be all charming with 'where have you been all my life' when all he is doing is ticking me off and making me uncomfortable. I don't like it when a co-worker comes to me to talk/laugh about someone from the public who just came in and maybe they weren't the perfect size or wearing the most fashionable clothes.
 

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I think that talking negatively about customers leads to a decline in morale and creates a separation between employee and customer.<br><br><br><br>
You can talk about clients who are difficult, and ask about how to handle them or how to deal with a similar situation in the future.<br><br><br><br>
What is inappropriate is talking about clients negatively just to "blow off steam". Why? Because it fosters an environment that degrades positive customer service. If people think negatively about customers, they will not look at new and effective ways of serving people and the business at the same time. They'll just continue to complain.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>skylark</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I heard of a newspaper that had a "crazies board" where staff posted the kooky letters to the editor that are too far out there to be printed. (Yeah, you thought the ones that <i>did</i> get printed were reactionary.)</div>
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This seems immature and mean (and "crazies" is a bit offensive, ya think?!), poking fun of others. Yes, people may have what others think are stupid thoughts & ideas, or may have a disability and write weird letters. The only letters worth posting on a board like that are the ones that are intentionally funny/satirical/poignant/rude etc. The rest should just go in the trash.
 

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I should explain, Our notepad has things like:<br><br><br><br>
"It's dark outside, how did they see a tornado?" (After a tornado drill)<br><br>
"I can't get the scanner to make copies!"<br><br>
"The black and white printer won't print color!"<br><br><br><br>
So it is just silly stuff that was asked or funny comments made. Nothing is written out of meanness. We never use names either.
 

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Anniekat, we have a book like that at work, with the funny things customers (or ticket agents) say.<br><br><br><br>
We have a record of strange conversations we've had with customers, and we keep lists of the wrong titles the customers give our shows.<br><br><br><br>
For example, when we were playing the Rocky Horror Picture Show, one woman called it the Rocky Mountain Horror Show, and a gentleman called it the rockin' horny picture show.<br><br><br><br>
I agree with OA that complaining about customers can foster a negative environment, and I make sure it's keep to a minimum, but there are occasions that you just can't hold it in, and I think it's healthier to vent than keep it bottled in (at appropriate times and places).
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>OregonAmy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I think that talking negatively about customers leads to a decline in morale and creates a separation between employee and customer.<br><br><br><br>
You can talk about clients who are difficult, and ask about how to handle them or how to deal with a similar situation in the future.<br><br><br><br>
What is inappropriate is talking about clients negatively just to "blow off steam". Why? Because it fosters an environment that degrades positive customer service. If people think negatively about customers, they will not look at new and effective ways of serving people and the business at the same time. They'll just continue to complain.</div>
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I very much disagree. It's much worse to expect people to bottle it all up and then just quit in frustration. I'd rather staff blow off their steam than have to cope with a high turnover. It's the expecting your staff to be unthinking, unfeeling little robots who are never effected by what a customer says that leads to a depressed, negative atmosphere at work.<br><br><br><br>
I'm currently working in the advertising department of a newspaper. Of a weekend there is no complaints department so the calls come through to us. We take the details and tell them someone will get back to them. Sometimes no matter how correctly a call is handled the customer can upset you. You need to blow off a little steam, or seek solace from your workmate before just going on to the next person.<br><br><br><br>
For example: the girl beside me yesterday took a call from a customer. He was upset that he had responded to an ad that had run in our paper for TVs. The TVs were sold out and he rang us to complain. He called my co-worker "a stupid f***ing c*nt", and that unless she stopped the "false advertising" he would come around to our office and physically harm her. I overheard the whole thing and I believe she handled the call in an absolutely correct manner. Do you real expect her to have no feelings? Not to turn to me when the call was over and exclaim "Jesus! What a nutter!"? She handled the call properly, why should her reaction be to ask for advice in handling such calls correctly in the future? She just wanted to blow off steam after someone insulted and threatened her. What on earth is wrong with that?<br><br><br><br><br><br>
ETA: I believe the "funny things" book is inappropriate. Venting and blowing off steam should really only be saved for exceptional call like the one above.
 

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Yes, but only in certain circumstances. If someone's been a jerk to me, I can and usually need to tell someone about it. It's either you laugh or you cry, sometimes.<br><br><br><br>
I've worked in a lot of places where people would gossip about the clients, especially in call centers. It's bad in call centers. I don't think I've had a job where my co-workers <i>didn't</i> talk about the customers/clients.
 

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In short, yes. With our customer base, it is never dull. We have a soup kitchen on one side of our building, a homeless shelter on the other, and the Salvation Army right down the street. Customers with mental problems and who are drunk or drugged are pretty common. We also seem to be a repository for roving groups of young teenagers with no parental supervision. The young female employees, in addition, have to worry about horny older men who develop fixations on the staff who wait on them daily.<br><br>
If we didn't talk about this stuff, we'd all go nuts. Plus, it's a way to keep your fellow staff members safe and comfortable when you can warn them about a new shady character on the scene.
 

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I don't know a single teacher that doesn't talk about his or her students. The issue is <i>how</i> the students are talked about.<br><br><br><br>
Obviously a lot of us talk out of concern.<br><br><br><br>
And, obviously, I'd say every one of us has shared at least a few funny stories about what kids have done or said (more likely: hundreds of thousands of stories).<br><br><br><br>
And I'd also bet that we've all complained about particularly frustrating students to blow off steam before trying to rationally figure out how to address the problem.<br><br><br><br>
What I disapprove of is teachers who just complain about kids in general with absolutely no sense of humor or no sign that they're going to do anything to make things better. It's disheartening and makes me wonder why they're teaching at all.<br><br><br><br>
But, yeah... I love my kids, but I definitely do my fair share of storytelling.
 

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If someone is a complete ******* to me, I do have one or two close interpreters with whom I will vent to, and they'll vent to me. We don't sit around in the break room and laugh about clients or consumers. We are bound by law to confidentiality. We are NOT allowed to discuss specifics (names, places, etc.) however we can use the situation as a teaching tool or a learning tool, as long as we remember what the point of us telling the story/situation was, and getting to said point.
 

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If I couldn't make fun of the nutters who come in our store when I work register I would totally quit. I'm not a bad employee, I've gotten promotions and I just received a raise while everyone else is getting their hours cut because corporate is telling my bosses they have to drop labor to 25%. My bosses hear most of what I say about customers and they tell me all the time I'm hilarious. People enjoy working with me so I'd say I improve morale if anything. I deal with 100+ people a day when I'm on register, most of them annoying, but putting an amusing spin on it seems to work for us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>veggiejanie</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I think it's unprofessional. No.</div>
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How does someone who is professional handle the frustration they may still feel when they hang up after a phone call with an irate person?<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>OregonAmy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
(and "crazies" is a bit offensive, ya think?!</div>
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Their word, not mine. I thought it would be helpful to use the term they gave the board to paint an accurate picture how they view it. Most of the "crazies" who write in are doing it intentionally, in my experience. They may believe what they say, but they do it in an intentionally inflammatory way. Sometimes I think they're testing the editors to see what they will and won't print.
 
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