Kuudes Aisti hosted an event in the end of February 2020 where Camilla Tuominen talked about do we destroy businesses by forgetting our emotions. She spoke how to lead and understand feelings and the importance of consequences of these intangible factors and invisible behavior at the workplace.
Today organizations are focused on data knowledge and pure facts. We take it as default that feelings and difficult thoughts don’t belong to work. But this is against biology. The reality is that instead of logic, most of our decisions are based on emotions and appealing to our feelings but not knowledge. Emotions affect every cell in the human. We are messaging to ourselves and to others though our emotions. At work our emotions impact upon people’s relationships, teamwork, customer satisfaction and employee retention. And of course, all this influences how we make decisions, how we plan, how we negotiate and show that there is a place for creative thinking within the organization. We all have emotions, even the C-level management. Emotions drive people and people drive performance and business.
- people at work could communicate and connect effectively and feel confident in uncertain situations,
- people would be more present and make conscious choices rather than automatic reactive ones,
- people received critical feedback from others in a non-defensive manner,
- people had more empathy towards others,
- in challenging and stressful situations people were able to manage pressure and think rationally but at the same time be able to listen to what their own and colleagues’ feelings are saying to them.
Above could be a description of a workplace where people understand the power of emotional intelligence. Goleman (2018) highlights that our emotional and rational parts of our brain work in tandem and they need each other. What if we could consciously combine and manage the rational and emotional parts of our brain? What if it would be everyone’s duty at work to learn to use emotional intelligence?
How emotions and feelings influence us?
Emotions and feelings are crucial in impacting what we think, how we make decisions and how we behave. Our behavior is driven by how we think. Underneath our thinking, there is how we feel. Feelings are mental and they are sparked by physical emotions. Feelings are a subjective expression of emotions. Emotions are physical, they contain data about ourselves, other people and the world around us. Emotions are the energetic stage on our body.
We learn already from childhood that there are “bad, negative emotions” – sadness, anger, grief, and fear. We tend to push these emotions aside and say “stay positive” or “stop being so angry”. We think that we are in control of our emotions when we ignore them but in fact, they control us and we lose the capability to see the world as it is. When people are encouraged to understand their emotional truth at work there will be more creativity, engagement, and innovation at work. (David 2017.)
Tuominen explained in her presentation in February 2020, that for example, negativity in a meeting might create fear and loss of confidence, being cynical or unfair might create anger and frustration. Consequences of these might be that we decide that it is easier to keep our mouths shut in the next meeting, put our shields up and keep inside one’s true self.
This might lead to worse performance, loss of work time and an atmosphere where ideas aren’t flourishing. Consequently, we might think that it is good to numb our painful emotions and continue working as normal. But according to Brene Brown (2010) “we cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”
How to avoid pitfalls?
Many times we think we have made a rational decision, but the chances are our emotions made the decision first. Reasons are then established to justify our instinctive gut feeling. We validate our decision by saying we had an intuition. Sometimes our “intuition”, that is based on emotions, might be true but the problem is that our emotions aren’t always reliable, and we might interpret them totally wrong. We also have a tendency to collect and repeat stories of defeats. We might get hooked by our feelings and thoughts and treat them like facts. Examples of these could be “It was the same in my last job, it’s not going to work out”, “I don’t like working with strong personalities”, “I’m bad at multitasking”, “I don’t like to work with slow people”. We get stuck in these old stories and we start seeing only one perspective.
In the end, these stories start impacting on our daily decisions at work. We need to learn to understand why we think and feel this way and learn to detach ourselves to deal with real situations. (David 2017, 2018.)
How to get started in leading emotions?
We should never ignore our emotions. We should remember that emotions are here to tell us something and we need to learn to recognize what they mean. By learning to name and admit our emotions helps us to get a start with leading the emotions, this helps us to calm down and see things more clearly. Instead of saying “I’m angry”, we should say “I notice I’m feeling angry”. “I’m angry” sounds like you are the emotion but instead of this, we need to understand that emotions are a data source and we need to listen to them. By understanding our emotions we learn to recognize their causes and understand better why you and others feel and react the way they do.
Managing emotions is about drawing data about yourself and trying to respond effectively rather than reactively. It’s about integrating emotions strategically to enhance thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. Emotions don’t own us but we own them. We need to remember that emotions are also contagious. We have no right to put negative emotions forward. We should understand what kind of bad influence it can have on others. When we learn how to handle negative emotions, we open a door for positive emotions. (Tuominen 2020, David 2017, 2018.)
So do we still afford to ignore our emotions and feelings in the workplace? Emotions have an impact whether the business makes it or breaks it.
Brown, B. The power of vulnerability. 2010. Accessed 27 January, 2020. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?fbclid=IwAR1O28UsQaEqVutHwOpySu1nTbJ7UaN-U8Ny8AVGDrYexCXOFXPK2__If3g
David, S. The gift and power of emotional courage. 2017. Accessed 13 March, 2020. https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage?language=en
David, S. Emotional Agility. 2018. Accessed 15 March, 2020. http://bestbookbits.com/emotional-agility-susan-david-book-summary-bestbookbits-com/
Goleman D, 2018, Emotional Intelligence
Tuominen, C. 2010. Emotions management. [lecture]. Held on 29 November. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
Watkins, A. Being Brilliant Every Single Day. 2012. Accessed 1 March, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q06YIWCR2Js