Why You Should Be Kind to the Receptionist

Ah, the service industry! If there is one occupational field that gives you an in depth view of the absurdity of human interaction it’s definitely the service industry. The demands range from the logical to the completely Kafkaesque, because you’re the go-to-guy/gal. But at the same time you’re the fly on the wall (if any of you are a fan of Kafka, that’s a reference to “Metamorphosis” feel free to giggle with esoteric delight).

Although the joys of helping people from behind the front desk can be gratifying, it can also become the face and dumping ground for all kinds of abuse and berating. Don’t be that guy though…because the revenge of the receptionist comes thick and swift. Here are a few reasons you should be nice to the Receptionist.

They Get It from Everyone

Unless you want to be on the receiving end of an explosion of a thousand repressed “Yes Sirs” “Yes Ma’ams” and “I’m sorries”, you might want to avoid being abrasive to a receptionist. Although a receptionist is the first point of contact with the company, most people consider them the lowest on the totem pole, and unfortunately treat them as such.

On a daily basis they deal with logistics, company finances, customer support and internal assistance. You are bound to cross paths and actually need the help of a person that has such a diverse and wide reaching role in the company. As mentioned above the receptionist is the face and voice of a company and the executive realize this, often hand picking them. Do you really want to piss someone off that has a direct line to the highest position at your company?

Control Freaks

As I said, almost everything coming into or leaving the office usually passes over the front desk that includes time sensitive documents, food/coffee orders and even internal communication. Do you really want a person with that much control to be pissed at you?

Think of all the meals you will get that will have been left to go cold, all the frozen lattes will have thawed out, all the urgent correspondence that you got just late enough that you were forced to work on the weekend…Looking at the receptionist in a very different light aren’t you now?

They Could be A Future CEO

Everyone loves an underdog story and very few people have managed to leave behind the lower levels of the corporate ladder and rise to the upper echelons of the executive branches of their respective companies. Karen Kaplan did though after working for 33 years with the Hill Holliday Advertising Agency. Not only did she become CEO and Chair(wo)man of the company but is considered one of the most influential women in advertising by Business Insider. As if her rise to the head of the company wasn’t unconventional enough, she followed almost none of the social conventions that needed her to schmooze the other execs. She even successfully balanced work and family, while continuing her meteoric rise.

Stories from the trenches

Due to the bulk of interactions receptions deal with on a daily basis they have an amazing amount of strange experiences. I thought I’d curate a wee list for you dear reader of the most absurd, funny and shocking.


Receptionist: Hello this X Pain Management Clinic

Caller: Is this X Winery?

Receptionist: No this X Pain Management Clinic

Caller: I guess I’m looking for a different type of pain management

Racially Confused

Customer: Lucy’s such a pretty name, but it doesn’t sound Italian

Receptionist: Why would I have an Italian name?

Customer: Because you’re Italian right?

Lucy: Nope, my mom’s Mexican my father’s white

Customer: So you’re kinda Italian.

Lucy: Um, not in the least

Customer: Well you should be you’d make a pretty Italian.

I’m going to assume at this point that the customer pronounced Italian as Aieetalian.

Bacterial Colony

OK, so consider your office environment a seething, undulating (if you’re a lawyer add “slimy” to those descriptors) super organism. A bacterial colony if you will. Within that organism you have the cells that are in charge of moving nutrients around, disposing of waste products, of telling the other cells what to do and the cells that convey those messages. If any single one of those cells isn’t up to snuff, the bacterial colony will function badly and eventually collapse.

So from the movers and shakers to the cubicle dwellers to the front desk, everyone contributes to the smooth operation of the company. Say we’re optimists though, and the colony survives, if one part of it isn’t working to full capacity that means that the others have to pick up the slack. And trust me when I say the loss of a receptionist would leave tons of slack to be picked up.

How You Treat Them Speaks Volumes About You

There is a psychological effect called projection, even if you’ve never actually heard about it you’ve probably have done it to someone. Basically any insecurities, complexes or negative impulses you may have about yourself you project those onto other people. So if you treat a receptionist or any other person that’s below you on the hierarchical ladder badly you’re actually revealing your own perception of a diminished self-worth. Of course, on the other hand, I’m not really a psychologist, and it might just be a result of you being a shit-head.

The Receptionists Test

Although this might be a bit of an internet borne myth there have been instances where candidates treated a company receptionist badly, resulting in them being passed over for a job. According to a Wall Street Journal article many executive assistants are used to gauge the candidates ability to fit into the office culture, as receptionist are detail orientated and have very good observational skills.

The “receptionist forward guard” can help weed out candidates that seem ill equipped to assimilate into the office atmosphere, or simply don’t seem like capable employees thus avoiding the costly mistake of hiring them and then being forced to terminate them. So do really want to aggrevate someone that could be the first person that you need to impress? I would think not.


There are various perks that you can gain from having the receptionist as a friend and ally. First and the most straight forward reason is that it’s better to have friends than enemies no matter what tier of the hierarchy they are. I know this is old and tired cliché, but what you put out in the world is what you’ll get back, especially if the person you are getting back from happens to have a direct line to your boss or prospective boss. This might make me sound like a hippie, but it just feels good to be nice to people man.

See Also: Top 5 Strengths for an Administrative Assistant

Would you like to add anything else to the list of reasons why it’s a good idea to treat receptionists nice? Let us know in the comment section below.