#48: Managing Conflict and Emotional Labor | Dr. E. Michele Ramsey | Bloom Providence 2018

At Bloom Providence, Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey gave a talk about managing conflict and emotional labor in the coffee workplace. Discussion focused on misconceptions about conflict, the role of power in conflicts and how we can better balance power between people, the impact of emotional labor on coffee professionals, and ways to manage oneself and others to help mitigate the impact of emotional labor.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey is an associate professor of Communication Arts & Sciences and Women’s Studies. She teaches a number of classes at the college, including Conflict Management, Gender and Communication, Women’s Public Address in the United States, Public Speaking, The Rhetoric of American Horror Film, Issues in Freedom of Expression, Contemporary American Political Rhetoric, and Black American Political Rhetoric. Her research interests include representations of gender in the media, political communication, with a focus on women’s rights rhetoric and social movements. She’s currently working on a co-authored book titled, “Back to the Humanities: College, Career, and Community in the Modern and Future Economy.”

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Table of Contents

0:00 Introduction
1:45 Introduction to what is conflict and conflict management
3:45 Conflict is normal, there will always be a power imbalance and describing what is emotional labor. Women and minorities have a higher burden.
9:00 How does not managing these things affect you psychologically?
12:15 What can baristas do to relieve emotional labor?
17:30 What can managers and supervisors do to relieve the emotional labor of their staff?
21:00 What can owners and upper management do to help relieve the emotional labor of their staff?
24:15 Summary of the talk
Questions
25:15 What is an alternative to bottling up your emotions when you can’t leave the cafe floor?
27:00 What sorts of questions should you ask when hiring people for emotional intelligence?
27:45 What are strategies for dealing with burnout?
29:30 Are there specific strategies for specific situations of misgendering?
31:30 Tips for managing the emotional states of your customers
34:45 Suggestions for getting management on board with emotional labor and helping you deal with it
36:15 If you’re in a leadership person and you have had negative interactions with a person you manage, but must stay friendly and professional, what strategies do you recommend to handle the emotional burden of that?
38:50 What can management do to minimize the emotional labor of woman and people of color, who feel it most acutely?
42:00 Some staff are good at not showing emotional labor. They “tough it out.” Is there a way to better recognize this in your staff and helping them be vulnerable?
44:00 Outro

0:00 Introduction

James Harper: Hello everybody, you’re listening to the SCA Podcast.  I’m James Harper, the editor of this podcast. Today’s episode was recorded live at Bloom Providence in 2018. Bloom features thought-leaders presenting topics that specifically address the craft coffee community and creates opportunities for meaningful dialogue between the speaker and attendees through interactive discussions. Check out the show notes for relevant links and a full transcript of today’s episode, or visit baristaguild.coffee to learn more about this year’s schedule of events, which includes a series of Bloom events taking place across the US this June.

At Bloom Providence, Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey gave a talk about managing conflict and emotional labor in the coffee workplace. Discussion focused on misconceptions about conflict, the role of power in conflicts and how we can better balance power between people, the impact of emotional labor on coffee professionals, and ways to manage oneself and others to help mitigate the impact of emotional labor.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey is an associate professor of Communication Arts & Sciences and Women’s Studies. She teaches a number of classes at the college, including Conflict Management, Gender and Communication, Women’s Public Address in the United States, Public Speaking, The Rhetoric of American Horror Film, Issues in Freedom of Expression, Contemporary American Political Rhetoric, and Black American Political Rhetoric. Her research interests include representations of gender in the media, political communication, with a focus on women’s rights rhetoric and social movements. She’s currently working on a co-authored book titled, “Back to the Humanities: College, Career, and Community in the Modern and Future Economy.”

Okay, let’s begin the talk.

1:45 Introduction to what is conflict and conflict management

Bailey Arnold: The company so, I’m really excited to introduce our next speaker. Dr. Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey is an Associate Professor of Communication, Arts and Sciences and Women’s Studies at Penn State Berks. She teaches a number of classes at the college including Gender and Communication and Conflict Management. Her talk today will focus on managing conflicts and emotional behavior in the coffee workplace. This discussion will focus on misconceptions about conflict, the role of power and ways to manage oneself and others to help mitigate the negative impact of emotional behavior. So, let’s hear it for Michele.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Hey, thank you so much for having me. I want to start off by asking you a question and it’s the same question I ask my students the first day of conflict management class every semester that I teach it, and that is to think to yourself what the first word is that comes to your mind when I say the word conflict.  Most of the time that words a negative one and that makes some sense. Conflict is something that we have to deal with every day in our lives, in our workplace, in our interpersonal relationships, but most of us don’t get any training on how to deal with conflict or emotional labor that goes along with conflict and so it makes sense that we don’t necessarily have great positive feelings about the word conflict because it can cause a lot of trouble and we don’t really ever learn much about how to mitigate that trouble. So, that’s a little bit of what I want to do today conflict management is a 15-week class and so making this 18 minutes is tough, but I hope that I can leave you with a few ideas and maybe some things to think about, directions to go off into after we’ve finished talking.

 

 

3:45 Conflict is normal, there will always be a power imbalance and describing what is emotional labor. Women and minorities have a higher burden.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: The first thing to know about conflict is that it’s normal. One of the myths about conflict is that harmony is normal, and conflict is abnormal. But in fact, both of them are normal. So, this idea that our relationships function like harmony-harmony-harmony-conflict-harmony-harmony-conflict. It’s really more like harmony-conflict-harmony-harmony-conflict-harmony -conflict. Conflict and harmony ebb and flow in our relationships and so, it’s a part of our world. We might as well start trying to learn some ways to deal with it effectively. So those negative feelings you have about conflict I hope I can change them a little bit, get you to understand that conflict just is. It isn’t necessarily negative or positive but it’s how we manage that conflict and how we deal with it that makes it a positive or negative thing in our lives.

The second thing to understand about conflict is that there’s always an element of power. So, the person that you’re having conflict with, you probably have some sort of either power balance or power imbalance and power is the product of a social relationship. Nobody’s born with power, not even the Queen of England is born with power. That person only gets power when someone gives it to them and so, people who work in the service industry, you have to give people a lot of power every day, especially if you’re someone who’s on the front lines with customers working every day. You have to deal with power and balance. The expectation that you’re going to talk to and treat that customer in a way that brings them back regardless of how they treat you and that’s a lot of emotional labor that goes into dealing with that power and balance.

So, you have some of the heaviest burdens when it comes to power and balance and dealing with power and balance and that dealing with power and balance is about emotional labor and what we mean when we talk about emotional labor is just the labor that goes into dealing with how you’re going to deal with your emotions, conflicts, but also and maybe even more so in the case of people in the service industry dealing with the fact that you’re unable to express what you want to express sometime. So, even though someone is treating you in an unkind way you don’t have the privilege of responding the way that you would like to. You don’t get to express the emotions you’d like to or express the emotion that you would express if they were treating you that way outside of the workplace.

So, emotional labor is about the kind of labor we do in the workplace as part of our jobs and how we have to do work to manage how we express ourselves and even, and maybe even more importantly how we don’t get to express ourselves sometimes.  Everybody in the service industry has to deal with this but women and minorities have to deal with it a tad bit more and maybe even a lot more in some cases. Women have to deal with, just like with minority status have to deal with the fact that there’s a lower status in our society in general and that lower status comes with a lot of stereotypes and assumptions about behavior. So, women have to deal with gender role stereotypes about you should always smile, you should always be nice, you should be mothering and nurturing and kind all the time because you’re a woman. When you don’t do those things or when you don’t do them to the extent that someone thinks that you should they may be a little bit harder on you, they may not treat you as well as they would otherwise because you are ignoring their gender role expectations.

Someone in minority status, non-white status has to deal with the same sorts of things. There are stereotypes, typically very negative that keep those power relations and those status differences intact and so folks in minority status that have to deal with the public also have to have the ability to deal with a lot more I think power and balance and also a lot more emotional labor and so everybody in the service industry has a lot of emotional labor that they have to deal with but I think that women and people of minority status have to deal with some more of it and one other way that they have to deal with some more of it is through the decoding of nonverbal communication. You’ve probably all heard the phrase “walking on eggshells” But, what does that mean? What that tends to mean is that we are paying close attention to someone else. We’re looking at their eyes, we’re looking at their hands, we’re looking at their facial expressions. We’re listening to their vocal intonations to try to figure out what it is they’re thinking; they’re feeling and how we should behave in response to keep ourselves safe.

So, women and minorities have to do a lot more of that. We find in research that they tend to be better at decoding nonverbals because as people in lower status positions, they have to do it a lot more often. So, everybody that works in the service industry has to deal with a lot of emotional labor. You all have to deal with decoding nonverbals and trying to figure out what the person in front of you is feeling and how you should respond, but women and minorities they do have a somewhat higher burden in that regard.

 

9:00 How does not managing these things affect you psychologically?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: So, what do all these feelings that are connected to this emotional labor cause?

One of the first things they causes people to feel inauthentic, to feel hypocritical because you’re having to put on a mask because you’re having to say something that maybe you don’t really feel. That takes a lot of energy and it also stops you from being the person that you really are. It’s part of the workplace. We all have to do it. As people who work I have to do it at the university, but it’s still labor and so those feelings of inauthenticity and hypocrisy, if we have to experience that often can really have some negative consequences and if we don’t take care of those feelings, they have really serious consequences.

One of the consequences is burnout which is just waking up and saying I can’t do this today, I just don’t have it in me physically, I don’t have it in me mentally to deal and that’s what burnout is. You’re just, you’re out, you’re out of gasoline. There’s nothing in the tank to get that work done that day and when we feel burnout, we tend to miss work. It could be legitimately missing work. We know that negative emotions and negativity hurts our health. It impacts our health negatively. So, it could be legitimately you miss work because your burnout and your body’s just had it and you become sick, but it can also be you miss work because you’re just not going to work today. You’re not going to deal with it. You don’t feel like doing that. You can’t do that and so people miss work as a result of those feelings of burnout that come when we have to feel inauthentic a lot of the day.

We also can start to develop less empathy for people when you have to walk around and wear that mask and be that person that you’re not, that’s part of that emotional labor. That’s a part of your job, you’re not who you really are, and it becomes harder to reach out and have authentic communication, authentic relationships with other people and so in spite of the fact that you may be a person who really wants to feel empathy for everyone. It becomes harder for you because you do sometimes have to walk in with that mask and sort of the wall that protects you and your emotions from that emotional labor work.

And then finally, we see lower levels of commitment to an organization. When people feel burnt out when people feel like they are putting in so much emotional labor, they start to have less commitment for their organization. It’s absolutely fair you go in; you have an expectation for your job, and you get a paycheck. That’s the deal but that deal doesn’t work for long periods of time unless you feel like you’re getting something else out of that situation and I’ll talk about that in just a little bit. But when we feel like we’re giving and giving and giving and especially you’re giving from your core right, you’re ignoring your own emotions, you’re ignoring the things that you want to say. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of energy and you can start to feel bad about it and feel less committed to where it is that you are.

 

12:15 What can baristas do to relieve emotional labor?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: So, what are some things that a specifically you folks that are on the front line the baristas can do to help deal with some of the energy that happens when you have to put out a lot of emotional labor? One of the things that you should do if you can is leave the floor. Get out of that space and go into another one. Get out of the place that’s causing you to feel the way you’re feeling and go somewhere else where you don’t have to engage with that. Switch emotions if you can. So, instead of thinking and keeping focus on what just happened, the negative experience you just had, all the emotional labor you had to put out. Think about something more positive. Your plans for the weekend, your plans for tonight, your significant other, family, something that’s going to make you feel happy. Try to replace those negative emotions with happy emotions, and those negative emotions aren’t going to be able to have the impact on you that they would otherwise.

Deep breaths; I know that you can’t leave the floor and go into full-on meditation, I get that. But what I always tell my public speaking students is you can’t just run up to the lectern and start speaking. You have to walk up, ground yourself, take a deep breath and the reason I tell them to take a deep breath is because all that adrenalin that’s happening when they’re dealing with their worst fear, it gets expelled from the body and some of that adrenaline goes away. And so, that’s what I mean when I talk about deep breaths that those feelings that we have, the emotional labor that we have to put out causes adrenaline, causes anxiety and if you can take some really good deep breaths, some of that anxiety, that adrenaline will leave your body and you’re going to feel a little bit better.

Maybe most importantly though is effective social support. So, when someone has to leave the floor, they’ve just had it and they need to take a break. It’s great if someone can go with them and when someone goes with them, they need to give effective social support and what a lot of us tend to do is listen. “Yeah, you’re right. Oh my God. The person is the worst. They’re always horrible when they come in here. I totally get it. It happened to me last week.” That’s not effective social support. What that’s doing. Is just piling on that negativity and not only are you letting that person roll around in that negativity for longer. You’re bringing it into yourself.

So, what does effective social support mean? Follow that person, “I get it. I’m sorry you had that experience. It does feel terrible. I hope you’ll be able to go and do something fun tonight. I get it. I feel you.” Instead of piling on and again that piling on comes from a good place. We want to show that we understand, we get it but when the way that we do that the way that we show that we get it can actually be more negative. It brings that emotion, that negative emotion up and you just keep building up on it. So, more effective social support. I understand I get it. I know you’re frustrated. I’m sorry is going to help them get all that stuff out but not build on it. In terms of a long-term one of the things that I think folks on the front lines have to do is consider what we call career identity and someone with high career identity we know from research doesn’t tend to be as negatively impacted as by emotional labor as someone who doesn’t have it.

What do I mean by high career identity? I’ll give myself as an example. With my degree, with my skill sets I’m pretty sure I could have gone a different direction. I’ could’ve gone in the corporate world. I’d be making a heck of a lot money than I am as a Humanities Professor, but that wasn’t my calling. That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach and so because I have high career identity, I’m where I feel like I need to be. It’s easier for me to deal with that emotional labor. It doesn’t tend to impact people as negatively when they have high career identity. So, I’d ask you to think about is this where you want to be? Is this really what you want to do? Is this the profession that you want to have and if the answer is I don’t know or no you can still stay in that position but that emotional labor is going to take a much higher toll on you because you’re not in a position that you love and that you feel called to.

So, you want to, of course, consider your career identity? You also want to make sure you don’t bottle up negative emotion. We know that negative emotion again, it hurts your day-to-day wellness, but we also know that bottling up of negative emotion is positively correlated to cancer rates and so you’re not just talking about your day to day health. You’re talking about your long-term health and so I would ask you again consider your career identity and make sure you’re in a place that isn’t hurting your health because that emotional labor and the negative emotions that can go along with all that labor you have to produce can hurt you.

 

17:30 What can managers and supervisors do to relieve the emotional labor of their staff?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: For immediate supervisors people who are supervising on training baristas. That supportive climate I talked about starts with you. So, you have to create a climate where people socialize, they like each other, you don’t let conflict sit and fester. You’re somebody who’s able to see these two people are having a conflict. I’m going to pull them aside. We’re going to work this out. So that, that conflict doesn’t boil and boil and boil until it explodes or worse that conflict doesn’t infect the whole organization with people taking sides and now you’ve got 20 people conflicting instead of just two.

So, you have to be somebody who understands and who can see that stuff happening and can fix. You also have to be somebody who sets up those informal means of social support. So, you have to communicate to people that if it’s possible and you need to leave the floor, leave the floor, take those deep breaths, give yourself a few minutes to deal with that emotional labor and if somebody can go out with you and help you that’s great. I know everybody can’t just pick up and leave the floor when somebody’s had a bad time but if you let them know that if it’s possible, get off the floor deal with your emotion, take care of yourself, let a friend help you. The rest of us will pick up the slack.

So, that means that supervisors picking up the slack too. Taking out the trash, doing whatever that person has to do so that your employees can take better care of themselves when they’re dealing with emotional labor. You also want to make sure that as a supervisor you don’t emphasize those interpersonal demands of the job. I think everybody in the service industry knows you got to put on that smiley face, right. You have to talk to people in a way that’s going to encourage them to come back. We all understand that. I’ve had plenty of service industry jobs too. So, you don’t need to hammer that home all the time. People understand that that’s their job. You just need to help them be able to do that more effectively and what we know from research about supervisors who constantly focus on those interpersonal demands is that literally the people that work for them they lose dexterity.

So, you’re not helping anybody if you constantly are banging the drum of that interpersonal stuff. It freaks people out, it makes them nervous and they literally, they can’t do what they have to do as well as if you were a little more calm about that stuff. And then finally as a supervisor, you’ve got to jettison your quirks in your moods. That supportive environment starts with you and so when you walk in that door, your job is not to add another level of eggshells for people to have to walk on.  We’re already having to deal with a lot of emotional labor dealing with customers, suppliers all of that stuff. So, when the supervisor walks in and that organization has to start watching their eye contact, watching their vocal intonation, watching how they’re moving. Are they in a bad mood? How should I act am? Am I acting too happy? Am I not acting happy enough? You’re making their job harder.

They’ve already got a really hard job, but when you walk in and you let your bad mood or your quirk for the day impact that organization you’re giving them another level of eggshells that they have to walk on and so, do your best I think to try and not bring that stuff into the workplace and make it easier for the folks that work for you, not harder.

 

21:00 What can owners and upper management do to help relieve the emotional labor of their staff?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: In terms of folks who own or who are in higher management of these types of organizations, perfect your hiring practices, which for me means two things. Number one, you want to try to hire people with high emotional intelligence. People who understand conflict management. They understand how people need to regulate their emotions and how to best do that. They understand that it’s their role to create that supportive climate. If you hire someone that has high emotional intelligence, they’re going to be better at managing all of that stuff that goes along with the industry.

They’re also going to be better at protecting everyone that works for them and so think about those hiring practices in terms of emotional intelligence. You also want to pick people that have high career identity as managers. There’s a big difference and you’ve probably all experienced this. There’s a big difference with seeing someone who sees people as true human resources that they want to grow, that they want to build, that they want to develop and people who would just want to be bosses. Who just want a higher paycheck or just want a better title? You want to hire the first person. You want to hire the person who values those human resources and who does what they need to do to protect and to grow those resources not just somebody who wants to be a boss.

The other thing to think about is training managers to understand that impact. To tell them this is the kind of organizational climate I want in my coffee house and here are the ways that I want you to make sure you get that to happen. So, training supervisors for your expectations about how you’re going to have them deal with employees, deal with the emotional labor and the conflict that they have to deal with. Train them exactly how you want them trained and then finally I would encourage you to invest in training and emotional regulation in conflict management and not just training for managers, training for everybody.

If you remember just a few minutes ago I talked about how sometimes people’s commitment to an organization gets lower because they feel like they’re putting in and putting in and putting in and they get a paycheck and that’s great, but they don’t get a whole lot more. You can change that equation when you decide hey, I’m not just going to teach my managers how to better manage their emotions or how to better deal with conflict. I’m going to teach everybody. You’re giving your employee something, something in conflict management we call power currencies. You’re giving them skill sets and not only are those skill sets going to help them deal with customers, suppliers, roasters all of that. It’s going to help them deal with their own conflict outside of work too and that’s going to make them happier.

So, everybody wins when entire organizations get some training in emotional management and conflict management.

 

24:15 Summary of the talk

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: So, just to sort of wrap up a few things to remember conflict just is, it’s not bad, it’s not good it just exists and one of the things we really all need to work on is learning how to manage it better.  For people who are in minority status and women you have a higher burden of emotional labor often and so you have to take particular care of yourself with regard to those higher levels of emotional labor, but everybody needs to take care of themselves. When they need to take care of themselves, go do it. Get off the floor take those deep breaths, think positive thoughts, provide social support for each other and then managers and owners set the tone. Let your organization know that you understand what emotional labor is, you understand what it costs people and you’re going to do everything in your power to make sure that they are able to manage that emotional regulation, and everybody wins. Customers win, baristas win, roasters win, suppliers win, owners win, managers win. When everybody knows how to better manage this stuff everybody wins. So, that’s it I’m happy to sit and talk a little bit.

 

25:15 What is an alternative to bottling up your emotions when you can’t leave the cafe floor?

Bailey Arnold: But, just as an aside when I was asked to facilitate this Q & A I was like oh, yeah that sounds fun whenever and I’m listening to you and I’m just nodding, and I can’t wait to just start employing some of this stuff. But, so one question someone had that I also thought of while you were talking was when you are on the floor and you can’t leave, because often you can’t leave and it’s amazing when you can but what would be a healthy alternative for bottling up those emotions? What are some strategies for switching?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: So, you don’t have to leave the floor to switch your emotion, right. While you’re doing your work, you can think of more positive things. You can try to get that negativity, that negative memory out of your brain. But you can also take those deep breaths while you’re working. You don’t have to make a major ordeal out of it and communicate to that person which would be tempting, taking really deep breaths over here. But I still think it’s useful that you can, even on the floor take those deep breaths and then also other people on the floor can support you. Pick up a little labor for the next 10 or 20 minutes that you wouldn’t normally pick up. Let that person kind of have a physical break even if they don’t leave.

 

27:00 What sorts of questions should you ask when hiring people for emotional intelligence?

Bailey Arnold: Cool. What in terms of within the hiring process, what kinds of, like I know everybody’s hiring process is probably a little bit different, but it typically involves an interview, a conversation. So, what kind of questions did you think would be effective in trying to seek out that emotional intelligence?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: There are organizations that will create all kinds of crafty little questions to get to those answers that you want to have and so I would encourage you to look for some of those places that have those suggestions. But I think behavioral questions. So, for instance, tell me about a conflict that you’ve been in, in a previous job and how did you handle it or let’s just pretend hypothetically this particular event happens how would you handle that?  Those kinds of things ask people to apply what their behavior is going to be to a certain situation, and I think you can learn a lot from those behavioral questions. But there are also those psychologically tricky questions that you can use and I’m not terribly familiar with them. But I do work with somebody for our advisory board who does a lot of interviewing and there are lots of psychological questions you can ask the kind of get to people’s emotional intelligence. So, I would encourage you to seek out some of those and decide which ones you want to use.

 

 27:45 What are strategies for dealing with burnout?

Bailey Arnold:  Yeah. Cool. In terms of people getting burnout and feeling this sort of wall between them, this lack of empathy. You try not to get to that point but often you do. Do you have any strategies for sort of managing that as an organization once that burden is already being felt? Can we come back?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey:  You can but I think it can be hard and it doesn’t just happen in the service industry. I’m in education and there’s just a lot of pressure now. This notion that students are consumers and they all need to be happy and so if we deal with that stuff too and some days I just kind of walk in, I do my job and I leave in spite of the fact I love my students and I love the colleagues in my department. I think you can, but I think it takes work. I think, it sounds trite but recognize the problem is the first step and I think sometimes we get up; we go to work, we get up and go to work, we get up and go to and we just kind of exist instead of being thoughtful about how we’re feeling when we go to work. How we feel when we’re there. How we feel when we get back and if we maybe think through some of that stuff and ask yourself some serious questions about your career identities is this where you really want to be and then trying to break through that screen that we put up which is easier said than done I know. But we put that screen up to protect ourselves from the gnawing at our humanity that emotional labor can cause. If you can try to take those doubt screens down in places where you know you’re safe, with your co-workers, hopefully with your managers hopefully, maybe that can help.

 

29:30 Are there specific strategies for specific situations of misgendering?

Bailey Arnold: Yeah. I know in cafe settings there can be assumptions made and miscommunications between baristas and customers but one thing that I think a lot of transgender baristas or gender non-conforming baristas faces misgendering constantly and I guess would there be anything… Are there specific strategies for specific sort of situations that you could speak to or?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: I think two things, I think, first of all, the reason for that misgendering is important. Is it someone who’s doing it on purpose? Is it someone who’s not? If it’s someone who’s doing it on purpose you just got to, to the best of your ability, you’re not going to change that person and that interaction. You’re not going to change those biases.

Bailey Arnold: Like that level of purposeful conflict, it’s just

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Right, where somebody thinks I’m not really sure about you and they make a comment to try to dig at you. But sometimes honestly and I teach gender and communication, we do a whole section. This gender identity stuff it’s pretty new. So, most people grow up thinking there’s two sexes. There’s actually about five and so even as someone who teaches gender and communication, I’m constantly having to read. I’m constantly having to learn. This stuff is changing really fast and it’s great that it’s changing, that we’re realizing that we don’t have just masculinity, just femininity and ones connected to male’s, ones connected to females. That we have a continuum that can go anywhere any of us want to, but understand too that the vast majority of the public they don’t get that. They’re not getting information about it; they’re not reading about it and so maybe that’s a place where you can try to feel a little empathy. They just don’t get it yet. They don’t know yet and it’s not a personal thing it’s just a true ignorance thing. They’re just not sure, they don’t understand and maybe they’re doing the best they can and just didn’t do a great job. So, I think it depends on what you decide the impetus of those comments might be.

 

31:30 Tips for managing the emotional states of your customers

Bailey Arnold: Yeah. In a lot of trainings that I’ve learned about or gone through, there’s a lot of talk about managing your own emotions, which we don’t talk about a lot which I’m glad we’re talking about it but there’s a lot of managing customers emotions. So, is that on us as baristas to, I mean it is right because of that power and balance that you’re talking about, but.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: It is to the extent that you want them to come back. So, you do have to try to manage but it’s really not that you’re managing their emotion, you’re managing your reaction to their emotion. So, maybe you’re that one bright spot in the day that they needed. They came in really cranky, but you turn it around for them. That’s certainly possible and that’s a good thing. But, I don’t think you can control anybody’s emotions. You can only control how you react to those emotions and how you react to those emotions has an impact on you. So that’s individual, contextual decisions. I would say if you want to read a good book about conflict management. It’s a basic undergrad textbook, but I read it when I was an undergrad in that class, and I use it. It’s called “Interpersonal Conflict” and it’s by Hocker and Wilmot. You can get an old copy on Amazon for probably $4, but it’s a great primer in terms of what conflict is, how to manage it, strategies, understanding it better. My students walk out of that class totally different people and so if you want to pick up a book and read, pick up a cheap book on Amazon “Interpersonal Conflict, Hocker and Wilmot. It’s an easy, easy read but super helpful.

Bailey Arnold: Well that was actually one of the questions was do you have any other recommendations for books,

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Yeah. Hocker and Wilmot

Bailey Arnold: resources?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Hocker and Wilmot are really good. The emotional labor stuff is new. In fact, you got my name because some of you may have seen the Gemma Hartley article that was in Harper’s Bazaar. I think it was. I can’t remember the title, but we’re fed up was part of the title and it was a nice beautiful hand gesture in a yellow cleaning glove. That, I just made this quick little comment, that article skyrocketed. It went everywhere. I had people I hadn’t talked to in years, “Oh my gosh, someone just passed this to me, your name is in it. So, I think it’s kind of new and I think what’s cool about this discussion is it’s giving people a language to talk about things that we’ve always felt. We just haven’t had words for it and so, go out there and find a book on emotional labor, find that book on conflict management. It gives you a language to talk about this stuff and you really can’t get too far unless you can effectively talk about it and name these things and so, I think Gemma’s article and she’s writing a book too which I think will be fantastic on emotional labor is giving us all a language to talk about it and I just couldn’t be happier to have been a part of that.

Bailey Arnold: That’s awesome.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Yeah.

 

34:45 Suggestions for getting management on board with emotional labor and helping you deal with it

Bailey Arnold: In terms of maybe being someone somewhere in the middle whether they’re, as a barista and they’re having to give out all this emotional labor, even a supervisor who then has another leader above them who isn’t necessarily as emotionally intelligent and doesn’t have the same skills and then the person who already doesn’t have power from customers and then doesn’t have power from their leadership. Are there any specific ways to navigate that or maybe to approach, to broach the subject with leadership within the company?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: I think it depends. My students hate that answer. It depends, it’s contextual.

Bailey Arnold: Yeah.

Dr. E. Michelle RamseyIt depends who that owner is. It depends on the openness of that supervisor. But yeah, I think if you go to people and again that conflict management book is one of those things that can teach you how to do that. If you go towards people with. The goal of making their lives easier, making their jobs easier, providing a solution for a problem that impacts their organization in serious ways. I would hope that they would be open to that. Again, it depends on personality, it depends on people. But I’d just go back to the only person you can control is you and so you have to make sure that number one you’re controlling your reaction to emotional labor and taking care of yourself. You can’t change anybody else.

Bailey Arnold: Yeah. Well, we have a couple minutes left. Are there any questions out here?

 

36:15 If you’re in a leadership person and you have had negative interactions with a person you manage, but must stay friendly and professional, what strategies do you recommend to handle the emotional burden of that?

Attendee 1: Hi. So, my question is if you’re in a leadership position and you have to manage somebody who maybe you’ve had conflict with outside of work or is just a negative person, or maybe it’s really annoying to you, but you can’t show them that because you’re their boss. What strategies do you have to kind of deal with that and not get burnt out on that?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: I’ve got this list of people going through my brain right now.

Bailey Arnold: Me too, me too!

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: as we all do. Yeah, it’s the same stupid answer. You can only control yourself and so I think one of the things that happens to us is we can sometimes become intractable and I’m not suggesting that you’re doing that. But we come to define people as this is just somebody I’m not going to get along with. They’re definitely never going to get along with somebody that you feel that way about. So, it is painful as a leader to reach out and try to be kind, and try to bring out kindness in people that you just really don’t want to. But, I think that’s what great leaders do and again, you can’t control their response to that reaching out but anything you can do to make your life easier do it.

Maybe reaching out to that person and if you have someone above you and you feel like this person is really negatively impacting the whole floor, the whole organization maybe that person should go, and I don’t know how easy for that to happen in your industry is. In my industry with tenure, it’s very difficult. So, I have to do a lot more of the playing and trying to figure out ways to work with people. But maybe that person needs to go, and I think that really comes back to the idea that owners and managers have to decide what’s the organizational culture going to be here, and we have good examples of organizational cultures.

I think you’ve heard of them that are pretty strong Ben & Jerry’s, people that provide healthcare and daycare centers and things like that. These people have made decisions that their organizational cultures are going to be a certain way and their productivity is much higher as a result. So, that’s not a great answer. I’m sorry, you can’t change anybody else. That’s the really unfortunate thing about all of this.

 

38:50 What can management do to minimize the emotional labor of woman and people of color, who feel it most acutely?

Bailey Arnold:  Anything else from here?

Attendee 2: Hey, as women and people of color have a weird relationship with service.

Bailey Arnold: That’s true. You’re right.

Attendee 2: What especially in like, for instance, a city like New York City where social status and class or rich people, you see all types all day long. What can management or ownership even do to minimize the amount of emotional labor that those people face in that regards?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: I mean do anything save barring those people from coming in. which again is something you can’t do.

Bailey Arnold: We got some claps for that.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: This list, you’re not allowed. But again, it’s about helping your employees find ways for you to be able to deal with that. I mentioned to Heather when we were talking that wasn’t really sure I wanted to mention it or not. But we have a really, really negative relationship to people in the service industry and you probably all feel bad. Again, I’ve been in those positions too and I get that. When I was going through research on this stuff I found that people rank folks in service Industries lower than people who are not. So, if you have a truck driver and you have a taxi driver, that truck driver is going to be ranked as higher status because the taxi driver serves someone, God forbid.

It’s a horrible attitude and that’s why I was struggling with whether or not to say anything, but I decided that if it came up I would because you can understand it comes from a place that doesn’t have anything to do with you and what a shame it is that the people that we rely on every day to make our lives better. To give us that cup of coffee that lets us get through the day and get started. We don’t appreciate that more but that’s the reality, you’re definitely seeing that reality. But again, you can’t make people change those positions you can only change how you respond. So, that’s what management can do I guess I’d say is help you. with strategies for responding.

I think it’s a great idea to call people in two hours early on some day and why don’t we talk about power and conflict and just give you some skills and some knowledge to help you deal with that stuff a little bit better because again, just like with public speaking nobody ever tells us how to do it. We’re just supposed to do it and that doesn’t work very well, and we end up having negative feelings because we feel like we didn’t do it well, we didn’t do it well. So, that education I think is really, really important. I’ll come to New York City any day of the week and talk to you all, happy to.

Bailey Arnold: Cool. That sounds great. Okay.

 

42:00 Some staff are good at not showing emotional labor. They “tough it out.” Is there a way to better recognize this in your staff and helping them be vulnerable?

Attendee 3: Okay, as a manager of a team, there are times where we have staff members who are very good about not showing a moment of emotional labor and they’re going through something and they kind of tough it out because that’s just part of how they are. Is there a way for us to better recognize that they’re going through a situation and alleviating them in a way even though they’re bottling it up and it’s not causing any issue? It’s just not good for them to be doing that. So, is there a conversation that we can have or how do we set up that dialogue where it’s okay to be in a vulnerable place and you don’t have to tough it out and we want to take care of you?

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey:  Yeah, I think everybody should want to work for you. That you’re absolutely spot-on on how important that can be and that is setting that stage, setting that social environment so that maybe when you hire and you’ve already hired a person you take them back and say look, my expectation is that you do this part of this job but also, I care about you and I’m worried that you have this big wall up and I want to let you know that just because I’m your supervisor, your manager I get it. I get it’s hard. I get that this happens, come talk to me anytime you want. You can’t say it out there, but we can go back in the back and we can talk it out and let them know that that vulnerability is okay and in terms of gender men have a much harder time being willing to be vulnerable and so you may have even more issues with male employees who feel like vulnerability and masculinity aren’t things that should go hand in hand. Does that make sense?

Attendee 3: Yeah, totally.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Okay.

Attendee 3: Thank you.

Bailey Arnold: Well, I think that wraps us up. Thank you so much.

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Thank you.

Bailey Arnold: It was wonderful!

Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey: Thank you all. Thank you so much.

Bailey Arnold: Awesome. Cool.

44:00 Outro

James Harper: That was Dr. E. Dr. E. Michelle Ramsey at Bloom Providence in 2018. Remember to check our show notes for a full transcript of this lecture and links to this year’s Bloom event in Atlanta, Washington D.C., Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles in June.

This has been an episode of the SCA Podcast. Thank you for joining us!

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