Grins good or bad

How fake smiles can make us sick

Status: 09/30/2020 4:46 p.m. | Author: Anthrin Warnking

Always nice ?! Giving ourselves joyous without being happy can harm our psyche.

Whether service staff in caf├ęs and restaurants, staff in supermarkets, nursing staff in hospitals and other facilities, stewardesses on holiday fliers or employees in call centers: There are many jobs in which constant friendliness, perhaps even a permanent grin, is required - after all, the customer is king .

Study: Fake grins can lead to more alcohol consumption

A study by the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Buffalo now shows a connection between simulated or suppressed emotions during work hours and behavior during leisure time. The researchers found that those who are forced to smile at work tend to drink more alcohol after work.

According to the researchers, this is not only because those affected feel bad and want to (supposedly) leave the stress behind, but also because they suffer a kind of loss of control through the constant suppression of their actual feelings after work: "Ever The more they have to suppress negative emotions at work, the harder it is to control their alcohol consumption after work, "explains psychologist Alicia Grandey in a Pennsylvania State University article.

"Surface Acting": The inner tension can make us sick

For the sociologist Dr. Anna Mucha from the University of Hamburg, these findings fit well with the results from other studies. In this case, alcohol is a means to dissolve an internal tension that arises during "surface acting". This is what researchers call this pretense of emotions that we don't actually feel.

We all know that from family celebrations: I work hard and have to be nice to people I haven't seen for a long time or even don't like at all. And I notice: That leads to an inner tension. Dr. Anna Mucha, sociologist, on "Surface Acting"

Always having to smile and be friendly, because the company expects it, for example, is not only exhausting - the stress that this creates can also make you sick, according to Mucha. "There is a risk of exhaustion depression," explains the sociologist. If we felt increasingly or permanently exhausted, this could be a warning signal: "Constant smile, enthusiasm for the product, joy in work - we can imagine that as constant tension. It is important to take care of yourself see if we can do that in the long run. "

"Surface Acting" vs. "Deep Acting"

So what can we do to meet the expectations of bosses and customers, but to free ourselves from this "cognitive dissonance"? In the short term, so-called "deep acting" can help: We think of something beautiful when we are not feeling well and try to actually create the emotion shown instead of just pretending it. However, this manipulation of our own mood is controversial.

Many researchers say it's healthier because it doesn't create these cognitive dissonances. However, it has one major disadvantage: in the long run, it leads to self-alienation. If I constantly create a feeling in myself that I actually didn't have, there is a risk that at some point I will no longer be able to feel how I am doing. Dr. Anna Mucha, University of Hamburg

The danger of going beyond one's own limits is very great. It could be that we don't even notice that we are actually exhausted and at the limit, warns the expert Mucha.

Important: create areas of retreat

It is therefore more promising and healthier to take breaks from the permanent grin. "If a saleswoman has few opportunities to retreat, she has to smile constantly and can never let her face derail because someone is always looking. It is very important to create areas of retreat where relaxation is possible," explains Mucha. She sees superiors responsible for creating these spaces and taking the needs of their employees seriously.

Self-reflection on the job

In the end, however, we can also ask ourselves: Are we made for the job? According to Mucha, depending on the type of person, there are definitely differences in how well someone fits into a work environment with a lot of customer contact and a constant smile on their face:

There are more extroverted and more introverted people. People who want to be in contact with others. And there are people who find it very exhausting to be constantly on the front stage, being friendly and interacting. Dr. Anna Mucha in the N-JOY interview


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N-JOY | The Count | 06/26/2019 | 12:00 o'clock