Emotional labour strategies

Yesterday we discussed emotional labour (EL) and came up with some strategies for trying to manage how much EL you do, and/or trying to reduce the amount of EL people do for you, and/or trying to change the way in which people do EL for you.

  • Try to create alternatives to EL-intensive situations, for example with a fun activity.
  • Try to acknowledge the EL someone is doing/has done for you.
  • Try to show gratitude for the EL someone is doing/has done for you.
  • Try to check-in with people about the amount of EL they’re doing, for example ‘I know I have been having a tough time lately and I’m grateful you’ve been around to listen. I was wondering if that’s been OK for you?’
  • Try to negotiate the requesting/carrying out of EL with others, for example:
    Person 1: I had a very bad day and would like to talk about it, do you have the time/capacity for that?
    Person 2: I’m feeling quite tired but could probably listen for 5 or 10 minutes would that suit?
    (We realize with this one it can be very difficult to do if people don’t have shared prior experience of interacting in this way using this kind of language).
  • Try to set boundaries.
  • Try to respond fairly to people setting boundaries and respect the boundaries.
  • Try to script/rehearse what you might say in situations where you need to reinforce your boundaries or don’t want to/aren’t up to doing EL.
  • If you don’t want to/aren’t up to carrying out EL, try to reassure the person seeking EL that it isn’t because you don’t care (if you have capacity for this).
  • Signpost the person seeking EL to other people/organizations/resources that may help them instead.
  • Seek EL for yourself.
  • Try to ‘debrief’ with people when not ‘in the moment’ to discuss situations where they maybe reacted negatively to boundary-setting or continued seeking EL when you were trying to set a boundary (if you have capacity for this).



Author: PILSAR

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