What is emotional labor and why you're doing it at work - Deepstash

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The term "emotional labour"

The term "emotional labour"

Our feelings are hard at work. In 1983, Arlie Russel Hochschild defined labour as requiring one to "induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others."

Clear examples of emotional labourer are therapists and other healthcare professionals, communications professionals, and educators. But we all do emotional labour when we empathise with our customers or plan a project at work.

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Why emotional labour matters

Emotional labour needs resources. Failing to account for it means that you'll be in short supply and may risk exhausting your and your team's energy reserves, as your team will have to step up and handle it.

On a personal level, if you ignore the emotional labour you're doing, you risk burnout. You need to be aware of how much energy you have to give.

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How to feel better

We can "feel" better by respecting the resources that go into emotional labour. Being aware of your emotional labour means you can better recognise it, talk about it and list it as a priority.

When your manager coaches you through a difficult problem, they're doing emotional labour. When a loved one helps you with your needs, they're doing emotional labour. When you recognise this, you can be more intentional with your requests.

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Make emotional labour automatic

We can do this by tracking our mood over time with tools such as emoji check-ins.

Another way can be with goal-setting. Make it a habit to review your goals. By repeatedly doing it, you start to automate the way you think.

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