Many leaders and employees get nervous when the topic of emotions in the workplace comes up. Emotions really are important in the workplace because they affect how we all function and relate with one another. Emotions matter because we aren't robots, we're human beings who feel stuff whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The mistake many individuals and leaders make is trying to ignore or suppress people's natural feelings. This creates workplaces where people aren't sure how to express their emotions and where things can quickly get out of control.
The officially sanctioned workplace feelings are anger, numbness and fake happiness, beyond that people get uncomfortable. Here are some ideas to help people build self-awareness, welcome all the other emotions they experience and deal with them openly and comfortably:
- When someone has an emotion let it happen and be there for them.
- Listen to what people have to say when they're feeling an emotion.
- Avoid ignoring or pretending the emotion isn't happening.
- Stay away from saying things like, "Get over it," "Everything's OK," or "Calm yourself down." Phrases like these tell the person that their emotions don't matter.
- Move past the, "This isn't appropriate in the workplace," mentality to, "What can we learn from this situation and how can we validate people."
- Deal with emotions when they are manageable to avoid having to deal with them when they're out of control.
- Institute a true open-door policy where people can talk with you about anything.
- Work on your own ability to deal with any emotion that comes your way, including the ones you feel.
- Set a positive example of how to express emotions appropriately.
The goal in life and at work is to view emotions as an indication that something is going on rather than something that has to be avoided at all costs. When you and your employees understand that emotions are a normal part of life, you'll all build a happier, more balanced workplace where people feel safe to express themselves honestly. What will you do to welcome emotions in your workplace?