Working in an Emotionally
Exhibiting "Grace Under Pressure"
Dan works as a customer service manager for a global organization. Although he likes his job, he often struggles to cope with the emotional demands that go along with it.
For example, Dan has to demonstrate certain behaviors, and follow specific protocols, when talking with clients. He has to use a script when customers make complaints over the phone, and he needs to take a sympathetic role when people are upset. He also has to avoid showing negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, when he's dealing with unreasonable customers.
Over time, Dan has increasingly felt empty, emotionally drained, and disengaged from his work. He arrives home each day feeling exhausted, and he has little emotional energy left for his family. He started his career believing that he could make a difference, but he's now considering moving to a different position.
Emotionally demanding roles like Dan's are more common than you might think, and, if you work in a job like this, you might have experienced some of these issues. Not only are these types of roles challenging, they can threaten your health and well-being.
In this article, we'll look at what you need to know and do to work successfully in an emotionally demanding role.
What Is an Emotionally Demanding Role?
Emotionally demanding roles typically require face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction with other people. In them, you may be expected to create an emotional response in someone else. You're also expected to display positive emotions, and suppress your own, true feelings – this is known as emotional labor.
For example, waiting staff must appear cheerful and accommodating to diners. Health professionals must be caring and attentive to patients, while at times hiding emotions such as frustration, sadness, or anxiety. Customer service representatives must stay cool, sympathetic, and professional with upset customers.
Although emotional labor is usually associated with customer service or human service roles, the reality is that any job can be emotionally demanding.
For instance, many professionals strive to be "team players," meaning that they must suppress negative emotions, present a positive outlook, and work closely with colleagues that they may not like. Some organizations might have "display rules," where they expect employees to exhibit certain emotions, behaviors, or body language while they're at work.
The role of a manager is also emotionally demanding. Many care deeply about their teams, and know that they have to demonstrate a positive and optimistic attitude, even when they don't feel this way. They're often expected to suppress feelings such as frustration, anger, uncertainty, stress, or disappointment to preserve the group's morale. ...