How to Make Yourself More Interesting: Lighten Up!

I’ve blogged about emotional labor before. It’s the invisible work that goes into a service job which requires the worker to absorb the customer’s emotional turmoil. Funny, but once I get turned on to an idea, I see it everywhere.

Consider Penelope Trunk’s blog. If you don’t follow her train wreck of a blog, let me tell you–it’s thrilling. One minute she’s canoodling with a farmer, the next minute she’s smoothing down her skirt for a pitch to venture capitalists. I happen to admire her eye for human detail.

This week, Trunk rants against the fantasy non-fiction book, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. She mentions the importance of building true blue relationships–the ones that really pay off in a person’s life–which are time consuming to build. True. They require sincerity and compassion–neither of which can be delivered convincingly in a 120 character Twitter post.

Trunk hit a nerve. Lots of people commented.

Later, I came across an article about the modernist architect William Massie. He recently shed his traditional architecture practice for a job at the Cranbrook Insititute. Now, he builds pre-fab houses on the side. Massie describes what it’s like “to feel free of demanding clients.” He reveals, “They are not good co-conspirators.”

Chatting with my inner circle of business buddies a while back, no one complained from the lack of work, despite the weak economy. The buzz was about how stressful the work was getting. So intense. Too much for too little. These people are entrepreneurs not prone to whining, so it struck me to hear them vent in this way.

As our economic situation gives rise to emotions like fear and panic, I suspect we are staggering under the emotional weight of life and work. People just need more from each other, that’s all. If you are competent and have a knack for getting things done, more people will turn to you.

I grew up thinking it was important to be responsible and serious. Now, I’m seeing that the trick for thriving in these times may be the opposite. A lightness of being may be called for. Despite my affinity for deep, intelligent people–perhaps it’s humor and horseplay that make us more interesting in these times.

Knock, knock….