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Psychological counseling has for the first time become part of some railway officials" preparation for the upcoming travel rush for Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year.
Nearly 500 officials at the China Railway Chengdu Group attended a lecture by a team of psychological counselors on January 24. The lecture focused mainly on emotion and stress management and communication skills.
The Chengdu rail group is responsible for rail transportation affairs in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Chongqing. The officials are on the front line during the 40-day travel rush, which began on Thursday. Spring Festival begins on Feb 16.
They will direct work at the stations and on trains to ensure the travelers" safety and the security of goods during the travel rush, said Yang Ze, deputy director of the Chengdu Group"s public security department.
Most of the officials have nearly 10 years" experience with the annual travel rush, but the pressure on them is rising as China raises the standards for anti-terrorism efforts and travelers" expectations with railway service grow, Yang said.
"Emergencies may be more frequent when many travelers take trains home at the same time, looking forward to family reunions after working the whole year," said Yang, adding that travelers who haven"t bought tickets or miss their train are common during the travel rush.
"The lecture is a novel attempt to help staff members adjust their mood under pressure and to care for employees" physical and mental health," he said.
An estimated 2.98 billion trips are expected during this year"s travel rush.
Lin Zi, leader of the team of psychological counselors, said during the lecture that employees who deal directly with the public should maintain a positive facial expression, which usually elicits a positive response.
"The key to solving disputes is to always manage your emotions. Every single expression must be prudent and avoid upgrading any conflict," said Lin, vice-chairwoman of the Shanghai Psychological Counseling Association and founder of a psychological consultancy.
"This is particularly important during the travel rush, as travelers are eager to get home and prone to emotional fluctuations－even fights are possible－due to unexpected weather conditions or crowding and traffic," she said.
Ways to calm angry travelers while receiving their complaints include repeating the key points they make, leaning toward them and looking into their eyes to make them feel respected, she added.
Lin also reminded rail officials that little improvements in the surroundings, including colors and pleasant smells, may ease their work during the travel rush.
"Sometimes even a little piece of wastepaper can set off conflicts between travelers, safety incidents and even crimes," she said. "The cleaner the trains and stations are, the more pleasant they are in the eyes of travelers, the calmer the travelers become."