What is emotional labor?

The truth is this: you live at work. If you count up your hours at work and add in your commute, and then add the time you spent becoming trained for your career, you’ll find that you’ve spent more time at work than in any other place. Basically, we all live at work — yet for the most part, the work world has not created a … Read More

Why did you believe in the end of the world?

I’ve been thinking — or more honestly, feeling — a great deal about this weekend’s purported Judgment Day, when there will supposedly be huge, planet-wide earthquakes, a rapture into heaven for 200 million true believers, and the beginning of the end of the world. The Apocalypse, Armageddon, Judgment Day. Of course, none of that will happen. It never happens. Hundreds and thousands of Judgment Days, Armageddons, … Read More

A holiday gift for your emotions

Holidays can be wonderful, but they can also be difficult if family or work relationships are strained. During the holidays, I see many people respond to difficult relationships by isolating themselves (or wishing they could), and I’d like to suggest a different tactic: gossip. Hold on! I’m not talking about any old gossip. I suggest ethical empathic gossip. There’s a little back story here.  Many years … Read More

How Much Anger is Too Much?

My friend Jane sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article about Tiger Woods and his angry outbursts during golf games. Numerous research studies have shown that exploding with anger is not cathartic, as people once suggested. In fact, yelling, steaming, throwing things, lashing out physically, and pitching a fit are not good for you (unless you’re in physical danger, of course!). In The … Read More

Targeting Emotion Work

Ooh, I just witnessed a beautiful example of emotion work and how it can surprise us! I’m standing in line at the Target, and I’m three people back from the checker. Everyone is standing around trying not to look bored. I’m studying people like I always do. The checker is a man in his 50s, slender but rather disheveled, with hair that needs cutting and a … Read More

An Introduction to Emotional Labor

In her excellent 1983 book, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, sociologist Arlie Hochschild described what she termed “emotional labor,” or the way that our emotions and emotional states are a part of what we offer (and what is expected from us) in the workplace. For instance, flight attendants must not only understand the intricacies of their physical work on airplanes, but they must also … Read More