On a visit to one of my favorite fast-food restaurants, I came across an all too familiar situation. A customer was unhappy with their food, and was yelling at the employee across the counter. The manager came, and worked to help solve the customer's problem. I didn't hear all of the conversation, but I did hear the manager offer a refund and to re-make the order. This restaurant was encouraging the customer's bad behavior, aka adult temper tantrum. This type of response is not limited to customer service, but applies to all areas of our lives.
This specific situation made me realize that in general we, as a culture, encourage bad behavior. I've noticed this happens not only in customer service environments, but among coworkers and supervisors as well. Maybe you can think of a situation in the workplace where a coworker or boss used bad behavior to their advantage.
We encourage bad behavior when we:
1. Respond favorably
- We want to make the person happy or satisfied, so we bend over backward, or go the extra mile to help this person. We make sure to be extra nice, and offer more options than usual.
2. Give rewards
- In the illustrated scenario the customer got a free meal. When we deal with bad behavior we often offer additional rewards as a way to "bribe" the person to be easier to work with.
- When we have someone demonstrating bad behavior we often make them a priority. We may push their issue to the front of the line, or focus our energy on solving their problem, even if only to make the situation easier for ourselves.
The intention of our efforts might be to make the person happy, or simply to get them out of your hair, but what it is really doing is demonstrating that this type of behavior gets them exactly what they want. All they have to do is be crabby, or create an uncomfortable situation for someone else, and we give them their way!
When we encourage bad behavior we are, in essence, also punishing those with good behavior.
I think that too often we overlook those who are doing what they are "supposed to be doing," and we forget to praise them for following the rules, and having good behavior.
Let's encourage those with good behavior to keep doing a #goodjob!
Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Patient
Connect on LinkedIn
I invite you to join me in February to Tweet #goodjob for good behavior shown by employees, coworkers, and leaders.