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Smiling: Key part of any job

By CNN's Maggie Lake

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Workers are now expected to be as courteous as waiters, regardless of what their job is.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Most consumers expect a high level of service in restaurants and shops, but these days employees who do not have direct customer contact are also being asked to be friendly and outgoing.

Being able to do your job is only a part of what employers are looking for when they recruit staff.

They want workers to be empathetic and friendly, and to fit in with the rest of the team.

Deborah Brown-Volkman, career counselor and author of "Coach Yourself to a New Career," says being nice is often a corporate mission for businesses.

She says that even if a candidate is qualified for a position, he or she can miss out on the job simply because they are not nice enough.

"Ninety percent of the interview is, 'Do we like you? Are you nice? Are you personable? Can we get along with you?' So, if you come in and you don't have a good attitude, it makes a tremendous difference," Brown-Volkman says.

With 40 percent of Americans spending 50 or more hours a week in the office, there is also a greater emphasis on being emotionally satisfied at work.

Michael Lawrence, manager of New York restaurant Daniel, says if his employees are happy, the patrons generally will be too.

"When guests come to restaurant Daniel, we make them feel immediately warm, welcomed and excited to be here. We compare it a lot to the theater -- every night there is a show."

But for some people, such as events coordinator Cory Thompson, being nice can be a burden.

"I do my best to put on a happy face when I'm not having a good day, but sometimes it can get to you," Thompson says.

Psychologist Jim Krantz of Nautilus Consulting Group says forcing workers to be nice can gloss over important problems.

"Conflicts reveal important institutional and system dynamics ... which is very important for organizations to look at," he says.

Krantz says corporations need to promote diversity, even among employees' personalities, and encourage workers to concentrate on the skills and experiences they can offer to ensure they don't just become a two-dimensional smiley face.


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