Listening and Emotional Labor

Diana Lempel's picture


I am developing a new workshop called "Listening is Emotional Labor," which will review research on emotional labor for the general audience, and then discuss basic oral history principles as a way into cultivating listening as an intentional practice.  My idea for the workshop came out of an oral history workshop discussion about how to understand listening as an expertise, especially in the context of gender dynamics: just because you're listening doesn't mean that you don't matter.  I originally intended the workshop for oral historians and other researchers, but the topic has proved compelling to people in a range of caring, service, and reseach professions.  I have nurses, community health practitioners, personal trainers, and more signed up. So now I'm thinking about what material to share.

If any of you have favorite readings - from within or outside the oral history field - about the ethics of listening, the responsibility of listeners to their own self-identity, about self-care, etc, I would really love to hear them.  This is meant to supplement the rightful focus we generally place on generosity to our narrators, with an acknowledgement that we can only do so effectively if we are also generous to ourselves.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!