After seeing Taffer’s assessment, owners, managers, and staff in the bars rescued in the series exhibit such emotions as pride, shame, guilt, and anger.
David Chirko, BA
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Bar Rescue, a reality television program (July 2011-present) aired on Spike TV, showcases the human personality in everyday workplace. Hosted by bar consultant Jon Taffer, created by Darrin Reed, produced by Todd A. Nelson and James David Roth, directed by Jay Hunter, it is distributed by Eyeworks.
In the show, Taffer responds to those who solicited his assistance to redeem their failing bars and restaurants. Hidden cameras were installed so Taffer and his culinary and mixology experts, who sometimes viewed “recon” specialists going in incognito to sample the wares and service of the locale, witness what has gone awry in the business from Taffer’s SUV’s laptop.
Taffer and company then enter, with introductions to the owner(s) and manager(s), explaining what they all just witnessed on camera. Taffer, usually irascibly, orders them to clean their squalid bars and kitchens. They return later and confer with staff to enquire how everyone is working together. There is a stress test and trial run. Taffer also sees the owner’s books and, based on his observations of the socioeconomics and culture of the community of their location, privately states his business plan for them. The drink and food menu, and the establishment’s cosmetics and outside signage undergo a facelift. The final test during grand opening then occurs.
After seeing Taffer’s assessment, owners, managers, and staff in the bars exhibit such emotions as pride, shame, guilt and anger. According to Branden (1969), pride is earned by achieving self-esteem. The staff and management show great pride in what they accomplish in the series, but they also express shame, anxiety, and guilt when Taffer’s assistants show them how to work more efficiently. Auchincloss and Samberg (2012) suggest that shame, anxiety, and guilt are felt when people experience lowered self-esteem as a result of being critiqued about their performance. Thus, employees become passive-aggressive and won’t cooperate, while others remonstrate, or are dismissed for incompetent and/or unethical behavior. Others often seek reparation, boast their “accomplishments,” blame one another, or run elsewhere, to do their own thing like gabbing or texting on their cell-phone, surfing the web or sending out e-mails on their office computer—all to hide their hurt. Akhtar (2009) explains “Defenses against shame involve narcissistic self-inflation and turning passive into active by shaming others, distortion of reality by lying … and withdrawal into a narcissistic cocoon” (pp. 264-265).
Anger is a feeling of displeasure when one is frustrated or threatened. It is healthy when expressed lovingly, but not when expressed in a hostile fashion or when it is repressed (Rubin, 1969). Repressed anger can produce anxiety and lowered self-esteem. Having a strong sense of propriety, Taffer’s anger is a reaction to indolence, or unprofessionalism by anyone on staff. The workplace is always an uncooperative, angry, anxious hotbed, wherein each employee ventilates to—and sometimes even assails—the pugnacious Taffer, over mistreatment, misdirection, past rivalries, jealousies, or envies. Taffer’s “psychotherapeutic” heart-to-heart talk with the owner(s) and logical, candid discussion with staff resolve all resentments, causing everyone to adjust to the new format and make a commitment to put forth their best effort to get along. In the end, when Taffer’s plans are successfully implemented, he leaves, with everyone experiencing exhilaration.
Viewers of the Bar Rescue television series learn about human behavior, which can be applied to their own workplace scenarios. The show demonstrates how, with proper and positive direction, crisis management and conflict resolution can be maintained. As in any therapeutic situation, insight and a little catharsis can go a long way toward facilitating appropriate workplace behaviors.
Akhtar, S. (2009). Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books.
Auchincloss, E. L. & Samberg, E. (2012, Eds.). Psychoanalytic Terms & Concepts. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Branden, Nathaniel. (1971). The Psychology of Self-Esteem. New York: Bantam Books Inc., 1971.
Rubin, T. I. (1993). The Angry Book. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.