Poker face at work might take a toll on you

Washington: The more you are required to suppress emotions at work, the greater toll it takes on you, says a new study from Rice University, the University of Toronto and Purdue University.

People who work as journalists, health care professionals, social workers, lawyers and law enforcement officers are required to keep their feelings bottled up, and so may have less energy to devote to work tasks.

"It takes energy to suppress emotions, so it``s not surprising that workers who must remain neutral are often more rundown or show greater levels of burnout. The more energy you spend controlling your emotions, the less energy you have to devote to the task at hand," said Daniel Beal at Rice.

They also found that customers who interact with a neutrally expressive employee were in less-positive moods and, in turn, gave lower ratings of service quality.

"When an employee is positive, it transfers to the client or customer they``re working with," Beal said.

"Because of that good mood, the client or customer then would rate the organization better. But if an employee is maintaining a neutral demeanor, you don``t have those good feelings transferred. If an organization``s goal is to be unbiased, then that may trump any desire the organization has to be well-liked."

For the study, the researchers trained participants to perform as poll workers in two different conditions – in one, the training emphasized being positive to provide a good impression and in the other, the training emphasized being neutral so as not to bias the responses of survey respondents.

Results supported the idea that neutral displays require greater emotion suppression and this greater suppression led to less persistence at the surveying task and greater avoidance of potential survey respondents.