Emotional Work

Posted on: October 16, 2010

After being truly inspired by Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, I submitted the following abstract as a lightning talk to both IxDA (not accepted) and UxLx. I am working on turning this into a Johnny Holland article:

Emotional Work

In a manual economy, the meaning of hard work was crystal clear. When your grandfather hauled hay all day long to make sure that the cows got fed, you knew he worked hard. What is hard work in the knowledge economy? When the work is no longer visible on the surface (and looking busy by checking your phone for messages does not count!), what are we actually getting paid to do?

Inspired by the work of Seth Godin, this talk will introduce the idea of emotional work. Emotional work is confronting fatigue and fear to accomplish more than is in a job description. It is making new connections, facilitating communication, standing out, and dealing with difficult situations. This concept is especially salient to designers, since the majority of the work that we do is emotional work. We put much of ourselves into our designs, and then present, explain, cajole, defend, negotiate, and rework our art.

Once we recognize this as our true work, we will quickly realize the implications for our work environment, collaboration, and our larger purpose within an organization.


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Alla Zollers

I design products and services that just. make. sense.

When products make sense, customers are happy.

If customer are happy, they sign-up, stay on site, engage, share, and buy your product or service.

Happy customers allow companies to profit in both senses of the word.

I provide the following services:

• Heuristic Evaluations
• Discovery Research
• Strategy and Vision Development
• Information Architecture
• User Experience Design
• Usability Testing

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