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Customer Service in a Denmark Hostel


I was just talking to a human resources consultant about emotional intelligence and customer service. We were standing in the cafeteria of a hostel in Denmark. As we were talking, one of the employees came up to me and said "You have to leave now. You cannot stay in the hostel all day. You were supposed to leave at 9 o´clock." I just said okay and she walked off.

I thought perhaps the consultant, who was still staying in the hostel holding a meeting, would say something like, "Excuse me but he and I are in the middle of a discussion.", but he was obviously quite surprised and a little intimidated by her rough, authoritarian style. For a moment he searched for words to say and then said something like "Well, I need to be getting back t my meeting also." We finished our conversation unnaturally quickly and then I left. The hostel employee was standing at the door as I walked out. I said "Bye bye" in as friendly a tone as I could manage and she said nothing.

She actually seemed physically upset. It is hard to know, though, what was bothering her so much. If I asked her, I am not sure she would be able to tell me. I suspect it has a lot to do with her beliefs about what is "right" and "wrong:" It would be interesting to ask her why she was so upset and what the problem actually was, but in my experience people like this simply will start to say things like "Those are the rules." etc. etc. I have come to believe they really don't know why they get so upset. And I don't think the majority of people see any connection between their own unmet emotional needs, such as the need to feel in control, and how they feel and behave.

This reminds me of what I wrote previously that no one is qualified to have authority over someone else unless they can identify, express and explain their feelings, and connect them to their beliefs.

If this woman could do all of the above she might be able to see that actually there was no real problem with me being in the hostel talking to the consultant. Notice that she did not express any of her feelings with feeling words. She didn't take any responsibility for them. She didn't apologize for interrupting us. In fact there was no need whatsoever to interrupt us the way she did. I had my next to me and it was obvious I was getting ready to leave anyhow. The only need was her own personal unmet emotional need.

The consultant, by the way, is a regular client of the hostel. He is holding workshops there on customer service for management trainees who work in supermarkets. He has about 15 students who are spending a week there, so he is a relatively important client for the hostel. If I were looking for a place to hold meetings and workshops, one of the factors I would consider in making my decision would be the level of customer service provided by the employees. I am guessing that this employee has never had any customer service training. I am also guessing she has never had any training to be a parent. I would expect that if she were to treat a client or hostel guest this way, she would treat her own children much worse. I am also guessing that for her children, the way she acts and treats people is "normal". But it is not healthy for them. And it is not good business.

S. Hein
Arhus; Denmark
August 29, 2007


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