Emotions at work (part 2)

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 discussed fear and anger previously. I will cover grief, jealously and joy this time.

In the business world, we have all experienced some loss and significant change recently. We have been downsized, outsourced, re-engineered and cost-cut to death. When we experience loss, whether it is the death of a loved-one or significant change at work, a normal emotional response is to grieve. Grief helps us to resolve our losses. Grief helps us come to grips with change. Grief may be expressed in tears or in telling the “story” of the loss or changes. This process helps us to come to terms with the new circumstances. If not adequately processed, distorted grief shows up as feelings of isolation, depression, self-pity and helplessness. Unresolved grief at work leads to reductions in effort and communication attempts, and may lead to perceptions of being alone and unsupported. During change efforts, we need more activity and communication, not less.

Jealousy is an interesting emotion. Most people find it hard at first to think of jealousy as having any positive side at all. Positive jealously is expressed as the desire to model and to copy others. It causes us to aspire to do more and to do better. In this way, functional jealously promotes learning, growth and the acquisition of new behaviours and skills. Of course, the more familiar distorted side of jealousy shows up as possessiveness, spite, envy and/or unthinking judgmentalism. At work, dysfunctional jealousy calls forth prejudice and promotes empire-building and back-stabbing. These elements are not conducive to change efforts.

Finally, the emotion of joy may be expressed as playfulness, spontaneity, laughter or just feeling good. Some of us think of this as love and unconditional acceptance. This emotion helps us to learn and to grow. It provides energy and vitality in life. With unconditional acceptance and good will in our lives we learn that we are valued and can develop a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. Without good will and acceptance in our lives, we become needy, demanding and dependent. We develop low levels of self-esteem and low-levels of self-confidence. At work this inhibits creativity, innovation, change, energy and communication. It becomes not OK to be ourselves. It becomes unsafe to explore, to challenge, to risk and to get involved. This all leads to low levels of motivation, performance and change.

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

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