Workplaces are emotional places. We are expected to be professional and leave our emotions at the door, but the vast majority of emotional distress reported has its core trigger in working environments.
We spend half of our awake time at work, interacting with people whom we did not choose and need to deliver success and performance working with them. This is a highly triggering medium, in which it is difficult to overlook the way that our emotions affect how we interact and do business.
Workplaces have rarely been just places for business. It is impossible, seeing as there are people included in the mix. And people feel. Emotions, moods, feelings, and so on and all influence the way that they learn, think, act and make decisions.
So it’s no wonder that workplaces are emotional places. We cannot live outside our emotions and they will influence our actions, reactions, and decisions.
It doesn’t really matter if you are a manager, a team leader, or a member of a team – you cannot escape the interaction, the decision-making, and the collaboration.
Want it or not, getting better at identifying, understanding, and regulating emotions will simply put, make your life and work easier.
Before moving forward I challenge you to think about:
- How do you feel when you wake up and prepare for the workday ahead? Are you in an energized mood? Are you waiting for the day to start? Are you excited to meet your co-workers?
- Picture the people that you work with the most. What are you feeling when you think about interacting with them?
Now let’s see how exactly are emotions involved in the workplace mix:
- Emotions are contagious. Just think about when someone smiles and you smile back. Or someone in your circle has a bad mood and it kinda eases into your mood as well, without you realizing it. If you ever felt excited when people around you were in a good mood, that is emotional contagion. This study shows that people are human mood inductors. Our moods transfer from one another. Think about what happens in a meeting when someone is off, agitated, or negative. Or what happens in a product development meeting when people are energetic and bounce ideas off each other? I would presume that those would be very different meetings.
2. Your emotions influence your choices and decisions. Let’s say you have a presentation coming up. You need to present your work and it is a big deal for you. But you are also feeling anxiety and because it is hard for you to manage it, you postpone or cancel the presentation. A situation like this is very likely to influence the way that you choose your projects and your challenges. And if you don’t learn to regulate your anxiety, you may start to avoid stressful situations altogether and pause your professional development.
3. Good emotional regulation leads to better relations in the workplace. How do you typically react when someone in your team seems to be in a bad mood constantly? Do you avoid them? Do conflicts happen? Your ability to recognize your own emotions will enable you to co-regulate – this is the process where you understand someone else’s emotions and tune in to them so that you can interact and collaborate better.
4. Emotional skills help you avoid conflict. Imagine this: you get an e-mail from a colleague that you never met and you sense that their tone is somewhat aggressive. You start replying in the same tone. Your communication becomes tense, even though you probably want the same thing – to get the job done well. You now have an aggressive attitude toward a colleague that you never even met. You find out days later that the only reason he used an aggressive tone was that their boss doesn’t like your boss. Being able to use your self-awareness skill to ask: ‘What am I feeling at this moment? What do I want to achieve in this situation?’ will help you manage the situation better.
If you think it will take you a lot of time to do this, just think about what would entail resolving a conflict situation or the time needed to find another job and adapt to it all over again.
If you are a team leader, think about what happens when you need to recruit, train and integrate new people into your team every other quarter. So the logical solution is to think long-term – focusing on creating an emotionally resilient team will make your life and work so much easier.