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Emotions in the Workplace: Why Managers Need to Care

2022-05-25
Emotions in the Workplace: Why Managers Need to Care

It can be easy for managers to brush off emotions in the workplace, but ignoring them can have dire consequences. It's no secret that emotions play a role in the workplace. When people are stressed, upset, or angry, it can affect their work performance and interactions with others. For managers, it's important to be aware of these emotions and how to deal with them. By understanding and acknowledging the role emotions play in the workplace, managers can create a positive environment for their team and help them to excel.

Why Do Emotions Matter in the Workplace?

The emotional culture in a workplace can help with predicting workplace outcomes. Here are some fundamental ways that emotions at work affect an organisation:

  • A joyful work environment attracts top talent - As well as bringing in the best people, an atmosphere of fun and support between co-workers fuels higher retainment levels and commitment to the company.
  • Too much of a good thing - Excess amounts of fun or camaraderie can get in the way of critical thinking and lead to lower productivity.
  • Excess stress impairs brain power - Stress is shown to cause issues with memory, attention, impulse control, and mental flexibility. For this reason, workplaces that are excessively disciplinary or have a disregard for fostering a positive emotional culture, can end up with less productive employees.
  • Emotional exhaustion leads to burnout - Burnout is thought to come from low morale at work over a prolonged period of time. This can be because of any number of workplace issues such as feeling undervalued at work, a lack of influence, or a lack of camaraderie between team members.
  • Positive emotions lead to innovation - When workers feel safe to express themselves and are encouraged to take risks, they are more likely to come up with new ideas. And when those ideas are met with support and enthusiasm, they are more likely to be developed into successful products or services.

What Is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to be aware of and manage one's own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It involves self-awareness, empathy, and self-regulation. Unlike conventional intelligence, which focuses on cognitive skills, EI entails understanding and managing feelings.

In the workplace, emotional intelligence can be a valuable asset in managing relationships, handling difficult conversations, and resolving conflict. Those who are emotionally intelligent are able to create a more positive and productive work environment.

Types of Emotions in the Workplace

Human beings experience a complex landscape of emotions throughout their lifetime and it is only natural that these would be present in some form within the work environment.

Positive Emotions in the Workplace

These positive emotions are common in a healthy and productive workplace:

  • Feeling valued - This involves feeling that our positive traits have been recognised and responded to appreciatively.
  • Happiness - This involves an overall sense of contentment and meaning experienced within a job role.
  • Camaraderie - In the workplace, camaraderie is a feeling of trust, collaboration, and friendship between colleagues.
  • Excitement - A feeling of mental stimulation and heightened joy in relation to the company's goals or the person's individual role.
  • Engagement - A heightened sense of focus and connection to a task or process within a job role. It can also include engagement with the company's ethos or team members.
  • Belonging - This involves a feeling of being "in the right place", and feeling connected with a role or team.
  • Confidence - A sense of personal empowerment and courage within a role. An ability to put forward unique ideas without feeling shy or otherwise inhibited.
  • Pride - This is a great feeling about a person's own role in a company as well as their contributions or skills.
  • Flow - A profound sense of absorption in an activity that completely engages a person's brain so they feel at one with the task.

Negative Emotions in the Workplace

Some negative emotions at work are inevitable, or even at times helpful. However, extensive amounts of these emotions can drain the psychological health of a team:

The most common negative emotions in the workplace are:

  • Burnout - This is extreme emotional fatigue that is the result of chronic stress within a job.
  • Stress - In short bursts, stress is a fear response that can activate our brains so we become more alert and engaged with a task. In the long-term, or in highly difficult situations, stress can have a negative impact on our minds and bodies alike.
  • Aggression - This is defined as ‘any incident in which employees and other people are abused, threatened or assaulted at work’. This includes verbal abuse and passive-aggression.
  • Pessimism - A negative outlook on the future of the company, the work itself, or the social dynamics within the team. A tendency to focus on negative information and form opinions based on that.
  • Anxiety - This negative emotion causes a person to feel unsafe either emotionally or physically. Anxiety at work can be about retaining employment, meeting demands, social aspects of the workplace, or even the tasks themselves.
  • Depression - Work-related depression is often triggered by an accumulation of stress that seems unsurpassable. It can cause feelings of hopelessness or apathy within the job.
  • Anger - This is another response to stress at work that involves a more expulsive and sometimes destructive approach. Workplace anger can result from irritation, outrage, or feelings of injustice.
  • Isolation - This often affects remote workers but can affect those within an office environment too. Isolation is the lack of needed social contact and connection. It can occur within a team if one person feels undervalued or ignored.

How Do Emotions Affect the Workplace

Our emotions have a great impact on our workplace. Positive emotions such as joy and hope can improve our productivity and help us to build positive relationships with our colleagues. On the other hand, negative emotions like anxiety and anger can lead to conflict and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand.

Emotional labor is the term used to describe the efforts we put into managing our emotions in the workplace. This can be positive emotional labor, like trying to remain positive in the face of adversity, or negative emotional labor, like putting on a brave face when you're feeling overwhelmed. Either way, it's important to be aware of how your emotions are affecting your work life.

How Do Emotions Affect Communication in the Workplace?

Emotions play a role in every aspect of our lives, including the workplace. In fact, emotions can have a powerful impact on organizational behavior and communication. For example, positive emotions like happiness and gratitude can lead to increased cooperation and teamwork. On the other hand, negative emotions like anger and anxiety can lead to conflict and miscommunication.

In some cases, emotions can even lead to organizational change. For example, if employees are feeling stressed or overworked, they may be more likely to speak up or take action. While emotions are an important part of the workplace, it is important to remember that they can also be a source of conflict. When communicating with others, it is important to be aware of your own emotions and how they might be affecting your ability to communicate effectively.

How Do Emotions Influence Employee Motivation?

Emotions play a critical role in employee motivation. Positive emotions can lead to positive feelings, such as happiness, pride, and enthusiasm, which in turn can lead to greater job satisfaction and productivity. On the other hand, negative emotions can cause employees to feel stressed, anxious, and resentful, which can lead to decreased motivation and performance.

Therefore, it is essential for managers to create an emotionally positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported. When employees feel positive emotions at work, they are more likely to be motivated to do their best.

Are Emotions Contagious in the Workplace?

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the idea of emotional contagion in the workplace. Emotional contagion is the spread of emotions from one person to another, and it can have a significant impact on workplace productivity and morale. A prominent recent study on Twitter users showed that positive moods tend to be more contagious than negative emotions.

However, it is important to note that emotional contagion is not always positive. In some cases, employees may feel pressured to participate in "surface acting" - to put on a happy face even when they are feeling stressed. This can lead to negative consequences such as increased absenteeism and job dissatisfaction.

Overall, emotional contagion is a complex phenomenon with the potential to have both positive and negative effects in the workplace.

Are Emotions Counterproductive in the Workplace?

When it comes to the workplace, emotional intelligence is said to be key. The ability to understand and regulate one's emotions, as well as the emotions of others, is said to be essential for success in any professional setting.

However, some experts have argued that certain enforced emotions are actually counterproductive in the workplace. They argue that emotional labor - the effort required to manage one's emotions in order to meet the demands of a job - is draining and can lead to burnout. Additionally, they argue that surface acting - putting on a happy face even when one feels unhappy - can be detrimental to both mental and physical health, as well as job satisfaction.

As a result, it is important for employers to create an emotional environment that is supportive and healthy for employees.

How Do Emotions in the Workplace Influence Conflict?

Emotions are a natural and often automatic response to any given situation. In the workplace, emotions can be triggered by a variety of things, from a difficult client interaction to a tight deadline. When left unchecked, these emotions can lead to conflict.

For example, someone who is feeling angry may lash out at a coworker, while someone who is feeling anxious may have trouble communicating effectively.

On the other hand, positive emotions can also lead to conflict, such as when two people feel strongly about the same idea and compete for credit.

Ultimately, emotions play a significant role in shaping the way we interact with others, and they can either contribute to or help resolve conflict. With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of our emotions and how they might be affecting our work relationships.

How Can Emotions and Moods Affect Decision Making in the Workplace?

Emotions and moods can have a significant impact on decision making in the workplace. When employees are feeling positive, they are more likely to take risks and be innovative. However, when employees are feeling negative, they are more likely to play it safe and stick to established procedures.

Emotional intelligence can help managers to create a positive emotional culture in the workplace. By promoting emotional awareness and encouraging employees to express their feelings, managers can create a positive emotional culture where employees feel comfortable making decisions. In addition, emotional intelligence can help managers to identify when employees are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, and provide support to prevent them from making poor decisions.

What Can Managers Do to Manage Employees' Emotions?

Managers play an important role in setting the emotional tone of the workplace. Employees often look to their managers for cues on how to react to and deal with difficult situations. As such, it is important for managers to be aware of the emotional labor that their employees are engaged in.

Emotional labor can be defined as "the effort, planning, and control needed to regulate emotions in order to appear emotionally appropriate". It is an essential part of many jobs, but can also be emotionally draining.

Managers can help to ease the emotional load by being mindful of the emotional culture of the workplace. They can create opportunities for employees to openly discuss their emotional experiences and provide support when needed. If they conceptualize emotional labor and take steps to manage emotional culture, managers will better support their employees' emotional well-being.

Frequently Asked Question

How Can Emotions Negatively Affect the Workplace?

Emotions play an important role in our lives, affecting how we think, feel, and behave. However, emotions can also have a negative impact on the workplace. occupational health psychology is a field of study that examines the ways in which emotions can lead to problems such as job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and even accidents.

One of the main ways in which emotions can negatively affect the workplace is through what is known as "deep acting." This occurs when employees try to suppress their true emotions in order to conform to the demands of their job. For example, a customer service representative might force a smile even if they are feeling angry or frustrated. Over time, this can lead to increased stress and job burnout. Additionally, deep acting can also lead to poorer performance as employees struggle to maintain the facade of positive emotion.

Ultimately, it is important to create a work environment that allows employees to express their emotions in a healthy and productive way.

Why is it important to manage emotions in the workplace?

Emotions are a normal and essential part of who we are as human beings. They give us information about the world around us and help us to navigate our social environment. However, emotions can also have a strong impact on our professional lives.

A positive mood has been linked with increased productivity, while a negative mood can lead to errors and accidents. Research suggests that we are more likely to make decisions based on emotion than on reason, which means that managing emotions in the workplace is essential for making sound decisions.

When we are aware of our emotions and can regulate them effectively, we are more likely to make positive choices that benefit both ourselves and our organizations.

How Can You Differentiate Between Emotions and Moods in the Workplace?

It's important to be able to differentiate between emotions and moods in the workplace, as they can have a big impact on productivity and morale. Emotions are short-lived, intense feelings that are triggered by a specific event, while moods are more long-lasting, general states of mind.

Moods can be positive or negative, and they can affect both our facial expressions and body language. If someone is in a bad mood, they might have a frown on their face and their body might be tense. If someone is in a positive mood, they might have a smile on their face and their body might be relaxed.

Emotions, on the other hand, are usually more intense and can be triggered by something as small as a colleague saying something rude. In this way, emotions can be viewed as a healthy fluctuation that we can train ourselves to overcome once they've been felt. With mood, there can be more deep-rooted causes to deal with.

It's important to be aware of both our own emotions and moods, as well as those of our colleagues. If someone is in a bad mood, it might be best to give them some space for a while or implement some kind of support.

Are Showing Emotions Good or Bad in the Workplace?

We are emotional creatures, and it is natural for our emotions to come out in the workplace. The reality is that we all have emotional states that can be triggered by events at work.

Sometimes, it is simply impossible to hide our true feelings, but emotional reactions can actually be a strength. They can show that we are human and that we care about our work. If we didn't have emotional reactions, we might come across as cold and uninterested.

Of course, there is such a thing as too much emotion. If we are constantly emotional in the workplace, it can be disruptive and distracting. We might also come across as unstable or unreliable. So it is important to find a balance. Showing some emotion in the workplace can be a good thing, but we need to make sure that we don't let our emotions take over.