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Thread: Emotional Labor

  1. #11
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    They say women do the emotional work in a relationship.

    What does this mean?

  2. #12
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginniebean View Post
    I find the requirement to maintain cheerfulness as a job requirement too difficult. It's not worth it for me.
    I have been fortunate in avoiding this kind of requirement in my jobs. Even when I worked briefly as a pharmacy cashier, standard courtesy was more than enough. (I sometimes got compliments on how polite I was, and patient with the elderly customers.)

    I see no reason for rudeness, but have no patience with faked emotion in a work or business setting. I have no patience with it anywhere, actually. For that matter, too much genuine emotion can be off-putting in the professional arena. Save it for home or friends.

    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Haha, almost nothing worse than getting jumped by a hyper-bubbly salesperson the moment you walk in the door. Besides being required to be that hyper-bubbly salesperson.
    Having such a job would be torture. It's a bit like stupid things. I don't like it when other people do stupid things, but like it far less when I am required to do them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    They say women do the emotional work in a relationship.

    What does this mean?
    Who are "they" that have given us such a broad (over)generalization?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  3. #13
    As Long As It Takes.... Redbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Unfortunately at the company we worked for there was very little support in the way of backing up employees against customer misbehavior. I feel that in jobs dealing with this kind of necessary emotional output, there needs to be more support for laborers (though I feel like that is true with for-profit corporations in the US in general). I felt many times like my job asked me to sacrifice my self-worth for the sake of "customer service"... I had been instructed a number of times to lie to customers. How in any way is that a part of a respectable business, much less a reasonable expectation of a self-respecting person?

    It is one thing to be required to calmly and professionally deal with someone rude - that's a good skill to have in life and perfectly reasonable for an employer to expect - but having to respond with a happy face and agreement to personal insult and micro-aggression (I've had someone throw product at me!) seems like it should fall under workers' rights and protection. Too often I have seen employees just trying to get through the day getting punished for reaching personal limits. One of my coworkers was fired after defending himself against a racist comment. No one should have to endure racism at work, much less be punished for it.
    ^This so much. I've had some CS jobs and it always seemed to me that providing "good customer service" meant tolerating abuse which is something no one should be asked to do.

    I have do some CS now for my job now and it can get ugly. I get emergency faxes and have to carry my department's beeper (yes...we use a beeper! ). I've had to talk to angry doctors and nurses wanting to know why they haven't received the info they requested. By the time they call, they're really pissed off because they've been requesting this info all day so all that falls on me even though I had nothing to do with it. I get at least one call per day like this...sometimes more and yeah, it can be draining. It's frustrating to be yelled at for something you had no hand in but at the same time, I can understand why they are upset and frustrated to.

    Fortunately, hospitals don't tolerate abuse from doctors like they used to. Doctors used to be able to get away with all kinds of stuff but they won't tolerate that now.

  4. #14
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    Default Emotional Work and Poor Pay

    Naturally there is little emotional support for wives who do the emotional work in a relationship.

    The emotional work is devalued, ignored, and remains invisible. And so the wife also remains invisible.

    And when the relationship turns overtly abusive towards the wife, the wife is told to emotionally support her husband.

    The emotional work both inside and outside the home is not understood and is ignored, just so the emotional work can be poorly paid.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Cool that you posted this. I was just thinking a couple of days ago at my customer-service-heavy job (which I just quit!! YAY!!) about how it is difficult to maintain that facade. My boyfriend and I were chatting later since he's worked a similar position and he pointed out how challenging it can be to recover in between customers, when you have someone who is particularly derogatory and essentially no recovery time to deal with the way you have been treated.

    Unfortunately at the company we worked for there was very little support in the way of backing up employees against customer misbehavior. I feel that in jobs dealing with this kind of necessary emotional output, there needs to be more support for laborers (though I feel like that is true with for-profit corporations in the US in general). I felt many times like my job asked me to sacrifice my self-worth for the sake of "customer service"... I had been instructed a number of times to lie to customers. How in any way is that a part of a respectable business, much less a reasonable expectation of a self-respecting person?

    It is one thing to be required to calmly and professionally deal with someone rude - that's a good skill to have in life and perfectly reasonable for an employer to expect - but having to respond with a happy face and agreement to personal insult and micro-aggression (I've had someone throw product at me!) seems like it should fall under workers' rights and protection. Too often I have seen employees just trying to get through the day getting punished for reaching personal limits. One of my coworkers was fired after defending himself against a racist comment. No one should have to endure racism at work, much less be punished for it.

    I also think that encouraging that sort of misbehavior on the customers' parts has negative repercussions for society at large - not to mention that it ultimately may have a surprisingly negative impact on the bottom line because customers begin to feel entitled to compensation and quickly learn that they can leverage personal attacks as a means of getting free product. Those kinds of people and problems IMO should be handled by management or dedicated customer service reps who have gone through de-escalation training.

    Haha, almost nothing worse than getting jumped by a hyper-bubbly salesperson the moment you walk in the door. Besides being required to be that hyper-bubbly salesperson.
    Very well said. I don't agree with the statement "the customer is always right." There are limits. The customer is usually right- now that makes sense. It's like some of these companies have lost their common sense about what's semi-rude and what's downright insulting and inappropriate. Someone shouldn't get fired because they defend themselves against a racist comment or refuse to serve a customer who throws a product at them.

    I work in a library. It's customer service in a sense- answer the peoples' reference questions, tell them what they need to get a library card, etc. And where I work, we are expected to be civil and pleasant towards customers but we do have limits. We don't have to put up with racist comments or things thrown at us. That warrants an incident report being filled out and the customer asked to leave the library for a designated amount of time. If they come back before their ban is completed, they get issued a trespass notice. We're also lucky that we have security officers where I work.
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  6. #16
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    We can be easily misled by those doing emotional work.

    On the surface they are friendly and engaged, but when we try to engage them spontaneously as persons, we find there is no depth to their friendliness, nor is there any spontaneity.

    And there is no emotional spontaneity because they are following rules. And these are emotional rules which preclude spontaneity.

    And indeed we might say exactly the same for mbti which is a set of rules that preclude spontaneity.

    And this is the hallmark of a consumer culture: there is no spontaneity.

  7. #17
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    We can be easily misled by those doing emotional work.

    On the surface they are friendly and engaged, but when we try to engage them spontaneously as persons, we find there is no depth to their friendliness, nor is there any spontaneity.

    And there is no emotional spontaneity because they are following rules. And these are emotional rules which preclude spontaneity.
    These employees are just the mouthpiece for policies formed by others, usually higher up in their organizations. Their emotional labor is supposed to smooth the way for imposition of these policies, in some effort perhaps to make them more palatable to the public on whom they are imposed. Think flight attendants, medical office staff, many/most customer service representatives. They do the "dirty work" of policy enforcement, while those actually making the policies are insulated from direct interactions with the people affected.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    These employees are just the mouthpiece for policies formed by others, usually higher up in their organizations. Their emotional labor is supposed to smooth the way for imposition of these policies, in some effort perhaps to make them more palatable to the public on whom they are imposed. Think flight attendants, medical office staff, many/most customer service representatives. They do the "dirty work" of policy enforcement, while those actually making the policies are insulated from direct interactions with the people affected.
    Yes, RHIP (rank hath its privileges).

  9. #19
    Senior Member Forever_Jung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    We can be easily misled by those doing emotional work.

    On the surface they are friendly and engaged, but when we try to engage them spontaneously as persons, we find there is no depth to their friendliness, nor is there any spontaneity.

    And there is no emotional spontaneity because they are following rules. And these are emotional rules which preclude spontaneity.

    And indeed we might say exactly the same for mbti which is a set of rules that preclude spontaneity.

    And this is the hallmark of a consumer culture: there is no spontaneity.
    I don't think it has to be that way. I mean, there are certain limitations to working within this sort of framework of rules, but if you get creative, you can demonstrate a great deal of spontaneous warmth at such a job. I often say things to customers that are "unprofessional", but I have been getting away with it for years now because customers love genuine interactions.

    A couple years ago, I was helping a lady find books on autism, and she was talking about how stressed out she has been with her two autistic kids, and the next thing you know she starts crying. And I don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden I was hugging her, and she was crying on my shoulder. Now every time she comes in to the store, she's super nice to me.

    Ooh, and once a second grade class came in to visit, and I rearranged all the tables and shelves into an elaborate obstacle course. Now every time a kid from that class comes into the store, they'll walk up to me with a big goofy grin, and say something like: REMEMBER MEEEEEEEE?

    Just today, I did a dramatic reading of the first chapter of a novel for a blind customer, who was interested in buying an audiobook but wanted to know what it was like, first. After I finished, I got a smattering of applause from customers in earshot.

    While I know what you mean, I think that as long as your company's not completely stuffy, you can find ways to be spontaneous.

    ANYWAY, this is a great thread, because customer service is hard work. My dad acts like I don't have a real job because I don't do heavy manual labour, but I know if you made him deal with the public for a day, he would either quit or get fired by the end of his shift. He has no emotional stamina.

    Edit: Sigh, I guess my anecdotes don't really refute your main point, BUT, I would argue that companies should try to encourage a bit of rule-bending to allow their grunts more room to interact in a spontaneous, authentic way. I find rigid, rule-bound friendliness a bit creepy. It's like a dead-eyed smile.

  10. #20
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forever_Jung View Post
    I don't think it has to be that way. I mean, there are certain limitations to working within this sort of framework of rules, but if you get creative, you can demonstrate a great deal of spontaneous warmth at such a job. I often say things to customers that are "unprofessional", but I have been getting away with it for years now because customers love genuine interactions.
    All of your examples showcase the fun part of a job with public interaction. What happens when you need to be the mouthpiece of your store's rules and policies, telling someone they are not allowed to return an item, or negotiate a lower price, or have a similar request? Whatever your personal opinion of the merits of their argument, you may not have the authority to deviate from the policy, and must expend emotional energy trying to get the customer to acquiesce without causing a scene.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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