In English

• 20.11.2019

Work is encountering people

People in service jobs encounter customers, care personnel encounter patients and their families, teachers encounter pupils and their parents, performing artists encounter the audience. In many professions, the importance of interaction skills has increased. Customers want personalized services. Simply being present is no longer enough.

The work of some people includes many energizing encounters. Musicians and actors create a positive connection with their audience, which shows its appreciation by applauding. On the other hand, the criticism can be hard and very personal.

Many professionals, for instance police officers and social workers, often encounter people in rather negative circumstances. In these cases, being able to help, and knowing that one is doing an important job from the perspective of the society, helps the person to cope at work. In these occupations it’s especially important that the work community functions well and provides enough support.

Unfortunately, negative encounters are an increasing part of the daily work in many jobs. For instance teachers get negative feedback from the pupils’ parents for a variety of strange reasons. It seems that the esteem toward some professions has diminished, and in the name of freedom of speech people feel they can spread false narratives and act contrary to proven facts.

The social media has brought an entirely new kind of forum to our lives. At its best, it is a place for sharing positive feedback, but at its worst, it is a place for systematic smear campaigns. It is easy to bad-mouth people anonymously in the social media, and unexpected reasons may lead to being the target of harassment.

It is possible to prepare oneself for encounters. Practising helps to encounter especially ‘difficult’ customers. In such situations also agreed ways of action as well as the supervisor’s support are crucial. It is also worth practising to deal with different situations in the social media. At the workplace it’s useful to have rules of the game regarding what to react to, how to react, and agreeing on who reacts.

All of us experience positive encounters in our work, and they empower us. We should cherish good encounters and seek them, as they help us to overcome difficult situations.

Rauno Hanhela

Chairman of the Editorial Board

rauno.hanhela@ttk.fi

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