Why Emotions Matter at the Workplace?

The Changing Role of Emotional Intelligence in Workplace Well-being 

"Leave the drama at home and shove it up,"  

“Don’t get whiny; we are at work—brush your emotions under the carpet."  

These phrases may resonate with many of us, as we've encountered organizations and bosses expressing such sentiments to us or our colleagues. 

For any ambitious employee striving to ascend the career ladder, the expectation to mask emotions and leave them outside the workplace is a common reality. But is displaying emotions a sign of weakness, and is it truly feasible to switch off one's emotional side at work?  

Let’s meet Shyam to understand the interplay of emotions at work. Shyam is hardworking, sincere, and driven; however, he loses his cool when his inputs are not valued by his team members. He becomes verbally aggressive to convey or enforce his views. This emotional outburst not only affects Shyam’s mindset at work but also impacts his fellow team members and the overall team dynamics. 

Imagine if a minor situation like the one above can have a spiraling effect on the individual, team, and organization. What would be the combined impact of all employees' emotional reactions at work? 

That is why, with the evolving demands of the market, many organizations are reconsidering their strategies and contemplating the integration of emotional intelligence into the workplace ecosystem. 

Let's delve into what emotional intelligence entails, why it holds significance, and explore how organizations can cultivate a culture of emotional intelligence: 

Emotional intelligence, a concept pioneered by Mayor and Salovey and popularized by Daniel Goleman, revolves around the undeniable truth that emotions define our humanity and wield considerable influence over our lives. Instead of dismissing emotions, it is about acknowledging and effectively managing them. 

Organizations fostering a culture of emotional intelligence empower employees to embrace and appreciate each other's humane side. This creates an environment where members can forge authentic bonds, establishing a safe space for individuals to be themselves. 

However, advocating for emotional expression at work doesn't mean endorsing the venting of personal problems or grievances. It involves creating a space for employees to openly communicate if they are feeling grumpy or irritated, signaling a need to take it slow at work. 

For those wondering how to establish this emotionally intelligent culture, here are some insights. Remember these strategies can also be accommodated and used for online work settings with a minor mindful tweaking. Let’s find out more…  

  • Talk about emotions: Initiate casual conversations to understand how team members are feeling and if anything is bothering them at work. In the above example, a minor check-in with Shyam, asking if he is okay as he seems a little overwhelmed or grumpy today, can be a good starting point to discuss his emotions. 

  • Listen actively: Acknowledge their emotions and engage in meaningful conversations, avoiding superficial interactions. Conduct one-on-one meetings (either in-person or virtually)  to ensure team members feel heard. Asking Shyam what is bothering him can provide you with key details about what is going on in his mind. 

  • Lead by example: Encourage "I feel..." conversations among leaders and team members, fostering openness and authenticity. Using “I understand or I also feel angry when the team doesn’t listen to me” can help Shyam connect more authentically with you and learn to talk about emotions professionally rather than engaging in blame games or fights. 

  • Promote accountability: Assist team members in developing skills to express emotions healthily, holding them accountable for their actions. Redirecting Shyam to talk about what he is feeling and why he is feeling that way, rather than focusing on others, can help him build accountability for his emotions and actions. 

  • Practice compassion: Create an atmosphere where team members feel supported and cared for, as support often fuels increased commitment and effort. By creating a safe space (in-person or virtually) for all team members to talk about their emotions and feelings honestly, you will help create a more humane culture at work that focuses on valuing sentiments and feelings. 

About the Author

Revathi is a Counseling Psychologist and International Career Coach (NCDA, USA Certified Career Service Provider) with over four years of experience in mental health and wellness counseling, training, and education. Having conducted over 500+ hours of adult individual counseling sessions, she specializes in intrapersonal, career, and relationship domains. Revathi has delivered 15+ training sessions in Mental Health and Wellness and is a fervent believer in preventive mental health. Her mission is to make mental health accessible and affordable, overcoming stigma and unawareness. 

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