Emotions at Work

Last weekend I participated in a Transactional Analysis workshop conducted by P. K Saru who is an Internationally-accredited Teaching and Supervising TA Analyst. During the workshop, I was reminded of the precept “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude” by Victor Frankl.

In my practice, I have found that executives are often subject to an unseen-unspoken norm of “we must not bring emotions to work”. This perception is not just incompatible with the concept of freedom, it is unsustainable as emotions are integral to our human experience. When we have to “fake it” or “mask it” there is a part of our humanity we trade off for nothing.

Repressing our emotions, lead to misdirecting them. Anger that was an outcome of someone’s fault at work shows up on a child at home. Sadness because of lost opportunity for promotion impacts our client interactions. Emotions affect us at a cellular level too. When we are unaware of our emotions, selective about them or fake them we walk in blindness to a part of our being.

Here is why emotions must be considered as an important aspect of achieving goals or experiencing more success in life :

  • What is part of us in any aspect of our life, is bound to affect us as a whole
  • As babies emotions ensured our needs were met. As adults, they point to our cares and values. They are the doorway to self-understanding and personal growth
  • Emotions are “energy in motion”. They are the ignition for our actions or lack of it.

There are four basic emotions we are all acquainted to – “Sad – Mad – Glad – Scared” -or sadness, anger, happiness or fear. And yet, some of us feel uncomfortable showing at least one of them. The executive who takes everything seriously is not ok with the emotion of joy or happiness. The manager who is always smiling may assess sadness as a dark emotion and does everything to mask it.

Helping people get in touch with their emotions and managing them effectively is not easy because getting acquainted with emotions is not easy. Firstly, the vocabulary around emotions feels limited. It is either not understood or unknown to most people. Being an inner experience, language comes short to create a shared understanding with others. Secondly, emotions and moods aren’t typically single tone but they come in shades. You may think you are sad, but you are actually experiencing ‘disappointment’ or feeling ‘hopeless’. And finally, we experience more than one emotion at any point in time. There is a cauldron of emotions we swim in.

Emotions and moods are the primary platforms on which we begin to give shape to our lives. They impact everything we end up experiencing or achieving; from learning to relationships, from social life to well being, from work to spirituality, they impact all. And yet we spend so little of our day experiencing this part of our being. And don’t end up using it optimally to create a life by design.

When we wake up to be in full awareness of our emotions, we see what the seers have called – our truth or reality.  REALITY is AWARENESS of what is going on inside and outside. 

To create emotional awareness cultivate a practice of presence. And here are a few  more tips to using emotions to generate success in your life and work:

  1. Commit to communicating your feelings in conversations using “I” message. That creates a habit of acknowledging your own emotional realm.
  2. Acknowledge other’s feelings as well. At work, we often acknowledge others for mistakes or for work well done by providing feedback. But both these acknowledgements recognize their actions or their “doing”. Acknowledging people’s emotions and feelings is an acknowledgement for their “being” and is a much more impactful form of stroke.
  3. “have to” to “get to”: When rushed to meet deadlines at work, we often get in stress generating emotions. To counter that use a powerful tool of language. Change your language from “I have to do XYZ” to “I get to do XYZ”. This often shifts emotions of stress or anxiety to a sense of freedom and choice.
  4. “I am” versus “I am feeling”:When you are experiencing intense emotions, change your language.Instead of saying “I am frustrated …” try using “I am experiencing (or I am feeling) frustration…”. “I am feeling…” creates a distinction between you the individual and you the observer of yourself. “I am angry” labels us as an angry person. And that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  5. Cultivate a practise of mindfulness involving your body or breath. It could be a simple 5 minute ritual. The key is not how long it is, but how consistent you are with it.

If you find you are stuck in your life drop me an email at harmeet@coach4max.com to experience a complimentary coaching session. 


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