Three Thoughts on Emotional Labour

avec Anne Goldenberg

A good piece on emotional labour by Clementine Morrigan in GUTS magazine:

« Emotional labour is a skill set. It is work that is supportive, that lifts people up and holds space when things are hard. Often invisible, emotional labour is always working behind the scenes. Foundational to emotional labour is the capacity to listen deeply without trying to fix things; to hold space for people moving through difficult feelings; to offer constructive feedback; to help people feel loved, valued, seen, and cared for. Emotional labour can look like remembering that people need to eat. It can look like making sure a space is clean and ready for work to happen. It can mean being available, showing up, holding someone’s hand, making space for someone’s pain. Sometimes emotional labour takes the form of educating others, of drawing on painful lived experiences to offer up important knowledge. Sometimes it takes the form of creating the conditions for others to speak their truth. For those of us who do emotional labour frequently, we can be very good at it without having ever articulated what it is we are actually doing. It is only when emotional labour fails to happen and things start to fall apart that we begin to notice how essential this work is.

Acknowledging the ways that emotional labour goes unseen and uncredited is important. We need to name the exploitation and devaluation of this important work. At the same time, the acknowledgement that emotional labour is frequently exploited has translated into a belief that emotional labour is inherently exploitative. As a femme who frequently performs emotional labour, both in my personal and professional life, I do not appreciate my important, needed, complex skill set being framed as something that is necessarily oppressive to me. I do not appreciate the suggestion that I am somehow being tricked into doing the hard and necessary work that is deeply important to me. This discourse devalues emotional labour. »

Read the full piece at



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