Let’s Protect Our Frontline Workers from Rude Customers

ALISON BEARD: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Alison Beard.

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the videos, cafe patrons shouting racist insults, hospital visitors angrily refusing to wear masks, drunk and disorderly airline passengers. Customer facing work seems to have gotten a lot more difficult, even dangerous over the past few years. What exactly are frontline workers experiencing now? How are they handling it? Is the problem really worse than ever? And if so, why? Also, what can companies do to prevent people from behaving this way or at least better protect their employees?

My guest today has studied incivility for two decades and a few months ago, HBR asked her to look into these questions. She’s here today to talk about what she found and give us some advice on how organizations and individuals should deal with unruly customers. Christine Porath is a professor of management at Georgetown University. She wrote the…

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