Emotional labor was conceptualized by sociologist Arlie Hochschild as work that requires the job holder to fake (surface acting) or modify (deep acting) their emotions. It’s often misinterpreted to mean emotionally intense work.
Service industry employees instructed to smile and pretend to be upbeat under high-stress circumstances — like interactions with hostile customers — typically engage in surface acting, which has been implicated in burnout.
Relatedly: Jonathan Malesic, in The End of Burnout — besides tracing burnout to job conditions and “work culture” — proposes that consumers, and even co-workers, hold ourselves accountable:
To beat burnout and help others flourish, we need to lower not only our expectations for our own work but also our expectations of what others’ work can do for us.