Emotions at work (part 1)

There are five emotions managers should attend to at work: fear, anger, grief, jealously and joy. Each of these emotions has a natural and healthy expression in some part of our lives. Unfortunately, these emotions also have a distorted side that frequently shows itself in our daily work-lives. We will discuss the first

Naturally, as young children we all have a fear of heights and loud noises. These fears protect us from hurting ourselves. When naturally expressed, these fears show up as a scream or as reluctance to do certain things. Usually, this is a good thing. Distorted fear, however, shows up for many of us as anxiety, phobia, panic and/or dread. As a manager you should be aware of the negative consequences of unresolved and unacknowledged fear at work. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to honesty. Most of us expect accurate information from others at work. Unfortunately, we will not get it if the people with whom we work are afraid of the consequences of that information. Another organisational problem related to fear is that people hold on to ridged belief systems out of fear. If you need to mobilize change and foster a climate that values diversity and innovation, you do not want people ‘digging in their heals’ and holding on to their safe, pre-existing belief systems. You want people to trust, to be able to let go of the past and to embrace new ways of thinking and doing business. People who are afraid, cannot do this.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive at first, anger can be a great asset at work. Natural anger is an effective energizer and motivator. When we are angry we make change happen. On the down-side, dysfunctional anger shows up as unfocused rage, resentment, violence or, at worse, apathy. As a manager you need to realise that unresolved anger leads to blocked listening, to covert and overt aggression and to resistance to change. If you are interested in promoting co-operation, team-work and the implementation of change, you do not want people walking around blocking your efforts because they are angry at something that happened in the past.

I will cover grief, jealously and joy in the next installment.

For more information about James’ courses on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Mastery go to www.jamescarlopio.com

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