Emotions at Work | 041

Emotions at Work

  • How do emotions show up in the work place?
  • What affect do emotions have on performance?
  • How we can create awareness around them in order to make them work for us?

Evolution of Emotions in the Workplace

Historically corporate culture involved leaving one’s emotions at home. Employees were required to show up, hands and feet with a skill set, as ‘human capital’.  The human doing instead of the human being. The human being: heart, soul, passion, self-motivation, was considered a potential distraction.  Females were labelled as too emotional.

How EQ works for us – it enables our IQ

Companies should be raising awareness around the fact that our intellectual intelligence (IQ) works best in service to our emotional intelligence (EQ).

When we align EQ and IQ we have more efficient access to knowledge, skill and experience because we have the capacity to choose our reactions to a situation as it is unfolding, rather than being at the mercy of a story guided by our subconscious/learned belief system, which activates a reflex type reaction.

We can operate outside of the ‘fight or flight’ survival mode which obscures rational thought and doesn’t allow space for engaging in collaborative thought processes among team mates.

Emotions and Company Culture
  • The culture of a company is not defined only by a vision and mission statement. It is also the unspoken words and behaviours of the team (the climate).
  • The culture of a company has a certain feel and energy to it.
  • This energy is cultivated through the social coherence of a company, which is determined by the emotional state of the team.
  • A change in an emotional state changes the energy in a room.
  • We pick up on other people’s vibrations which can be felt up to 10 feet away from each person, according to scientific research by The Heartmath Institute.
  • It is only when we are aware of our emotional state that we can choose to change it and in so doing, change the kind of energy we contribute.
  • Daniel Coyle’s Culture Code speaks to the nature and development of a successful company culture.
  • Albert Einstein “not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts”.
The performance equation
  • (Knowledge + Skills) x Attitude (to the power of) Teamwork = Performance
  • The dominant attitude, more than the skill and knowledge, is what determines the overall effectiveness of the team.
  • The attitude and approach cultivates the feeling or vibe in a team.
  • Attitude /approach/ teamwork amplifies or nullifies knowledge and skills.
  • Start with cultivating emotional safety for yourself and then your team.
Why cultivate emotional awareness and safety in the workplace?
  • If people don’t have emotional awareness but do have good intentions, these good intentions can be lost in translation.
  • Poor communication is often rooted in a lack of emotional awareness which fails to create a feeling of safety and can lead to mistrust.
  • Mistrust and threat in the workplace can lead to a team who operates from a stressed, survival mode.
Survival mode can breed the following behaviour patterns:
  1. Defensive and controlling behaviour
  2. Rebellious behaviour
  3. Person may ‘clock out’, act like they don’t care
  4. Become too agreeable

Survival mode can also hinder productivity throughout the team, as people become fearful of taking initiative or ‘colouring outside the lines’ at the risk of either a loss of power, loss of credibility, or disappointing the leader. This is where any potential for creativity and innovation can be lost.

Organisational pulse check – measuring emotional energy in the workplace

  • One can measure the level of engagement (intangible energy that EQ helps us to self-regulate) of a team.
  • Determine whether an individual’s growth potential in career, as well as personal values aligns with the company vision/direction.
  • Does the person feel like a leader in their role and own life (autonomy, mastery), whatever their position in the company?
  • Can they express what they live to do (purpose) through their role and contribution rather than just being there to make a living?

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Find out more about Liz Cunningham on her expert profile.

If you enjoyed this podcast with Liz you may well enjoy episode 36 with her on moving the body


Tension and trauma release exercises in Episode 39 with Matt Smith.