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Staff retaliating against rude customers? It’s only natural

Staff retaliating against rude customers? It’s only natural

A waiter spitting in a rude restaurant-goer’s food, a service counter worker giving false information to a belligerent customer, or a retail employee snubbing an angry shopper.

When customers are harsh, reacting with retaliation and sabotage is an almost involuntary and immediate response for employees, according to research by Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business Professor Julena M. Bonner.

Ms. Bonner’s study, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, explores why employees sometimes sabotage customers following a hostile interaction, and whether such behavior can be prevented, according to a statement released Friday by the university.

The research shows that despite understanding potential negative outcomes from backlash toward customers, such as reprimands, damage to company reputation, or even termination, employees will still consciously react to perceived mistreatment in a way that can harm a customer.

“It’s human nature,” Ms. Bonner said in the statement.

For managers, this means that creating a highly ethical climate can both alter the way employees think about provoking interactions with customers, as well as influencing the way they behave in response to those situations, researchers revealed.




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