Posts tagged ‘bouncebackability’

August 10, 2012

No Really, These are Laughter Lines…..

Do we really need more reasons to convince us that increasing the average age of call centre employees would be a good thing?

Probably not.  But just in case you encounter someone who is still adamant that customer service is a young person’s game, here is a little more information from the world of academic psychology.

It turns out that older people have learnt the key to keeping cheerful: look the other way, and quickly.

Emotional resilience, old-style

We already understand that positive emotions enhance customer experience and are transferable.  And plenty of research suggests that older people show more positive emotions than younger people and can cheer themselves up quicker that younger people.  Now US psychologist Derek Isaacowitz has shown that this may well be because  they switch attention from negative stimuli to positive more quickly than younger people.

His studies using eye tracking show that older people tend to have more “positive looking patterns” than young people, and do most of it when they are in a bad mood.

Bouncebackability

Out of the lab, this suggests that older workers are more adept at turning their attention to positive information than younger people, helping them to remain positive and snap out of bad moods more quickly than their younger colleagues.

Clearly this an important resource for workers in front-line customer service positions where the emotions and complaints of customers can generate significant emotional labour requirements and be an emotional drain on service providers.  Older workers, who are more inclined to refocus on the positives, may well have better staying power in these positions and help to reinforce the emotional resilience of teams.

So, customer service recruiters: it’s time to throw out any remaining Victor Meldrew stereoptypes of grumpy old men and replace them with a more accurate picture of older people who have learned how to bounce back and hold on to a sunnier disposition.  It seems that those wrinkles really are laughter lines.

References

 D. M. Isaacowitz. Mood Regulation in Real Time: Age Differences in the Role of LookingCurrent Directions in Psychological Science, 2012; 21 (4): 237 DOI : 10.1177/0963721412448651

Derek M. Isaacowitz and Fredda Blanchard-Fields. Linking Process and Outcome in the Study of Emotion and AgingPerspectives on Psychological Science, January 2012 vol. 7 no. 1 3-17

Donna R. Addis, Christina M. Leclerc, Keely A. Muscatell, Elizabeth A. Kensinger. There are age-related changes in neural connectivity during the encoding of positive, but not negative, informationCortex, 2010; 46 (4): 425