Emotional labor

We all know the difference between intellectual labor (working at a desk) and physical labor (working with your hands). But what is emotional labor?


All the KPI’s in the world can’t change the fact that it is impossible to command emotional engagement. When you are enthusiastic about a task or project, you will perform 10 times better than when you are merely doing your job. We all know the difference between making sure our job is done (“yes boss, I ticked all of the boxes”) and feeling a WOW! effect that also entices enthusiasm in others.



In the long run, you can only deliver emotional labor for things that you are passionate about. You can discover a passion for a certain task, for the collaboraiton within your team or for the objectives of your department. But if there is nothing in your job that makes you feel passionate, you know that you know that you are in need of a change.

Deep acting versus surface acting

Sometimes, you have to put in an effort to engage with your work in a positive way. You can do this in 2 ways. Deep acting is when you think of something positive associated with your work that makes you happy. If your dealing with a disgrunted customer, you might be able to tolerate the agression and negativity of the customer better by thinking about all of the customers who have thanked you for helping them out.

It is also possible that you can’t lift yourself up and you have to fake the friendliness, just because that is how you are supposed to behave. Fake it till you make it. This is called surface acting. In the long run, this will make you unhappy.

I feel your pain

It often helps to put yourself in the position of the other party. Can you understand his or her pain? Do you get why the other party is behaving like that? This can help you to put yourself above the situation.

The mood elevator

At Proximus, we have a culture change program called Good to Gold. Within that program, we teach all employees about the concept of the “mood elevator”. It is a scale on which you can indicate how you currently feel. This helps people to express their current emotional status towards one another. But it also helps in self-reflection: when I do this task, how does it make me feel? What tasks should I engage in that make me feel good?

Chief Happiness Officer

I genuinely believe that people should only work on things that makes them happy, since this is where their performace will be optimal. You can train skills, you can discover talent but you can’t buy passion.

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