Friday, June 4, 2010

Essay #3

This are my introduction and body paragraphs. Still working on conclusion.

“Five employees at Safeway Stores Inc. in California filed a lawsuit over the company's ''Superior Service'' rules that require employees to smile, make prolonged eye contact and speak to each and every customer. The plaintiffs said the policy encouraged sexual harassment by some male customers”. This citation is from The Ottawa Citizen’s article called “Worker burnout, a smiling matter: Emotional labor has business costs” written by Carla D’Nan Bass. Who could think that smiling as part of you job’s responsibilities may lead you to problems with law? I wonder if there are any other surprises and unexpected traps people who perform emotional labor can face with.

For the last two decades or so, when our economy made huge shift from industrial to service economy, we are more and more often hear about emotional labor. Not everyone understands this term and not everyone knows where it came from. In 1983 sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild published her book “The Managed heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling” where she gave the definition and explanation of an emotional labor based on her observation and research of flight attendant’s job. While the observation she noticed that flight attendant not only doing a physical labor by pushing a heavy meal cart and mental labor by organizing emergency evacuations, but they are doing something else such as creating safe and pleasant place to be by managing their emotions and smiling no matter what. As Hochschild said in her book: “in the course of doing physical and mental labor, she [flight attendant] is also doing something more, something I define as emotional labor. This labor requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (Hochschild,7) and also:”the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and body display” (Hochschild,7). On the first sight emotional labor has no difficulties, risks or side effects. How difficult it could be to smile, to be nice and polite? People would think that there are more possibilities to hurt yourself with a metal meal cart or get injured during emergency evacuation. But several scientist’ studies showed that there are problems for people who perform emotional labor, in other words induce or suppress their felling and emotions in order to satisfy customers, month after month. Problems such as physical, mental and social might accrue.

The same article from The Ottawa Citizen author referred to a research made by Alicia Grandey, an assistant professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Penn State University, about the effects of emotional labor on workers in service economy. During the research had been discovered that constantly suppress emotions:” can overwork cardiovascular and nervous systems and weaken the immune system” (D’Nan Bass, 1). Every system in our body is connected to each other and affects each other. The myth that our emotions are produced by our soul is really just a myth. Emotions produce by our brain, transport by our nerves and show by our facial and body muscles. As any mechanical system it can be burn out or even broken because of the overuse. Like it was said early all systems in our body are connected, so weakening nervous system will lead to weakening others such as cardiovascular and immune system. And that is making people be more perceptive to very real physical illnesses started from flu and cold and finished with heart attack or stroke.

According to another research made by senior lecturer doctor Charmine Hartel from University of Queensland, Australia and her research partners:”emotional labor can have a significant impact on psychological well-being with some people turning to drugs, alcohol and even committing suicide” says Ella Riggert in her article “Blues hit happy workers hardest” published in Courier Mail, Australia. Suppressing or faking your emotions lead to the stress for a lot of people. And different people deal with stress in different ways. Some people go to a gym or karate studio, doing yoga or jugging, go away on vacation (if they have an opportunity). But, unfortunately, not everyone deal with a stress this way. Some people are looking for relief in other ways such as smoking, drinking, abusing prescribed medication and using street drugs.

Besides physical and psychological, emotional labor has a great impact on social and personal life of the workers who involve in service industries. “People who are forced to be nice or constantly happy in their jobs are often depressed, sad and angry in their personal lives” states E. Riggert. Dr. Hartel supports this statement by saying:”if people don’t have emotional outlets at work then they go someplace else like home. It impacts on people’s social lives, society at large and they tend to let go at another people who are unrelated to the tension”(Riggert, 1). In this case the families and friends the ones who suffering. The relationships with them might be ruined. Studs Terkel in his book “Working”, which is a collection of interviews with people of different profession including face-to-face and voice-to voice professions, gives an interview with Sharon Atkins, a receptionist. She answering to the phone all day long with a nice smiling voice and she said: “I never answer the phone at home. It carries over. Even when my mother calls, I don’t talk to her very long”(Turkel,30). It is good if families understand why its happening. Why person you love and care about acting distantly and limiting yours conversations and interactions. But a lot of family’s members might be not that understandable and feel neglected, especially children. How can you explain your children that mammy or daddy was smile all day long so now there are no more smiles for them?

1 comment:

  1. Great job - I look forward to seeing where else you take this!