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The interactive nature of emotional labour, although considered, is not yet formalised. Research still prefers to focus on the professional demands from the organisation as the main cause of stress within the role of the teacher, nurse, counsellor, doctor etc. However, having interviewed 44 emotional labourers over three years I found that all these service professionals agreed that while stress was indeed caused by targets and display rules another significant contributor was a lack of emotional support from their managers. This may be due to stress that they themselves were under, an erroneous belief that emotional support was being given, an inability to offer it, or a fear of losing the client; but, as the very nature of an emotional labour job role is the “physical and bodily display of emotion” (Hochschild 1983) whether harnessed to convey discipline or sympathy; supressed to show compassion and understanding; or simple politeness in the face of a hostile client, emotional support is essential. Significant areas of support as suggested by staff included consistency in the behaviour of senior staff, trust rather than micro-management, support for the staff member before the client, acknowledgement of role demands (often overloading the worker outside the “9-5”), and an uninterrupted staff room (described by Goffman (1956) as a “backstage area”) where it is possible to fully be oneself before the job role needs to be worn again. These findings are especially pertinent in a climate where news reports are saying that “compassion is unnecessary”. Emotional Labourers enter the profession often BECAUSE of their caring nature – and are leaving it as they are less and less able to offer it.
In this dance, the example of a teacher is used. The teacher who is not emotionally supported by her manager is unable to offer her students the emotional support that she wants to, or that they need, but if that support is given (in this dance this is represented metaphorically as well as literally within the pas de deux section), then a virtuous cycle can be enabled.