Emotions. Do they belong in the modern workplace?
Many corporates would have us believe that emotions do not belong at work. We have been well trained to suppress any resemblance of an emotion, pushing them below the surface.
We hide them in an attempt to stay in control, look strong, and keep things at arm’s length. We have been conditioned to see emotion as a weakness or something to be ashamed of.
But in reality – our lack of emotion is holding us back.
Emotions are critical to everything we do as a leader: build trust,
strengthen relationships, develop bold strategies, focus energy, engage
the team, make tough decisions, and inspire action. Without genuine
emotion these things always fall flat and stall.
A genuine display of emotion stands out. We notice it for it’s authenticity, vulnerability
and compels us to connect. Sometimes it’s messy and can leave us
feeling a little uncomfortable but it’s powerful and creates an
If you’ve ever been in a room with a senior exec who has shed a tear
while speaking about something that’s truly matters to them, you know
what I mean.
And then there is the CEO who I’ve worked with who day by day is
charismatic, engaged and light hearted, but when he is truly annoyed he
will let his team know. He doesn’t leave any room for doubt about how he
feels. His response is measured, authentic and drives action from his
And it builds trust and loyalty – because his team know exactly where they stand.
But don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to say that excessive
emotion that fly’s carelessly throughout the office can also be
detrimental. It can feel chaotic and leave us wanting to duck for cover.
So how do you find the happy medium?
Self awareness is the answer. Being aware of how you are feeling is important.
I often ask in workshops; “What emotions do you feel on a regular basis at work?”
Many struggle at first to find the answer to this question. It’s
clearly been a long time since they have acknowledged their feelings.
They are buried so deep that they can no longer be easily accessed.
Some are surprised to discover the heaviness of their emotions –
feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and sadness. It’s not
surprising then that as we progress through a process of awakening self
awareness that tears bubble to the surface catching them unawares.
And one of the secret weapons of being in touch with our emotions is the power of intuition.
Emotion is required to tap into our intuition. With
our emotions switch off or suppressed we can so easily miss the signs
and clues that something is a bit off. The business world has put such
emphasis on logic, data and proof that we have lost the art of making
smart decisions based on both head and heart.
3 simple ways to reconnect with your emotions
1. Introduce mindfulness.
This might include breathing exercises, guided meditation or even a quite walk where you are totally present. Through a regular practice of mindfulness we become more aware of how we respond to our day to day work and life and we learn to become an observer of our thoughts, emotions and our habitual reactions.
2. Listen to your body.
It leaves us clues! Listen to the aches and pains. Listen to the recurring colds and flu’s. Listen to the chronic tiredness. Our mind and body are inexplicably connected. When we are stressed, tired, angry, frustrated – it will show up in our body. The pain and dis-ease is there to remind us to attend to our feelings and emotions not just ignore them.
And if we don’t – that’s when serious illness is likely to come knocking at our door. Burying emotions deep within is fruitless. I see it everyday with the women I speak to. They are too busy or afraid to listen to their body or feel their emotions… but they are there and if left unattended, will wreck havoc on their overall wellbeing.
3. Let down your guard.
It takes vulnerability and openness to be in tune with our emotions. If you want to be known as a genuine, authenticity leader who cares… it will require you to let down your guard. But it will be worth it. It’s only through this personal inner work and courage to be truly seen for who you are that your effectiveness as a leader will be fully realised.