Session 12: Personality and Emotional Labor

Emotional labor is basically an employee’s expression of organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions at work. It is a key component of effective job performance. We expect flight attendants to be cheerful is an example of desired emotion in the context of organization.

The way we experience emotions is obviously not always the same as the way you show it. To analyze emotional labor, we divide emotions into felt and displayed emotions. Felt emotions are our actual emotions. In contrast, displayed emotions are those the organization requires workers to show and considers appropriate in a given job. They are not innate; they are learned and they may or may not coincide with felt emotions. Emotional labor is carried out in two ways;

Surface acting: hiding feelings and foregoing emotional expressions in response to display rules

Deep acting: trying to modify one’s true feelings based on display rules.

The employees feel a disparity when engaging in emotional labor and we call it emotional dissonance. This is inconsistencies between the emotions people feel and the emotions they project. As a result, bottled up feelings of frustration, anger and the resentment can lead to emotional exhaustion.


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