One of the most awkward topics in today’s work environments is related to emotions, whether or not they belong there and to what extent.
I question whether or not it’s that cut and dry. Each of us has a plethora of emotions; whether we want them or not. It’s no secret that burying emotion isn’t healthy but we also know what it’s like to be around others who exhibit so much emotion they’re difficult to be around. There’s definitely a fine line and a balance to be created.
But exactly how do we create emotional balance and what are the benefits?
Emotional balance is an indication of emotional intelligence (EQ) - a well-known term in psychology and education that’s turning heads in business circles with more frequency than ever before.
In fact, according to Wharton management professor, Sigal Barsade, who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace, “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.” Business schools are teaching executives how to be emotionally intelligent, and how to manage the emotions of their employees. This is a significant shift given that we know EQ is one of the many qualities high performers exhibit. In fact, it’s been determined that 90 percent of top performers are also high in EQ.
Because we know high performers have high EQ quotients, we can conclude they’re adept at managing emotions. I believe what’s well managed tends to be less disruptive.
To manage something is to be in charge of it. To be in charge of something requires you to make a choice. Once you decide to be in charge of your emotions (rather than allowing them to be in charge of you) here are six suggestions that will empower you to discover balanced emotion.
Elevate your consciousness
Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings. In order to raise consciousness, learn more about yourself. What do you like/dislike? What fills you vs. drains you? What feelings do certain experiences or people elicit? What do you notice when you slow down and truly take in what’s around you that’s connected to all your senses? Do you notice the little things? Or are you so busy filling your time and life with action that you don’t notice such things or moments?
Escalate your self-awareness
Self awareness is the conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives and desires. It’s the foundation of emotional intelligence and is central to each and every one of us. It’s not something, however, that we are born with or are acutely aware of at every moment of every day. It’s something that becomes woven into who we are and bursts into our space at various points throughout our lives, depending on situations and our personality. Once you’re more self-aware, it’s easier to understand yourself and see yourself as a naturally creative, resourceful, whole person. So often we craft our lives around the labels/expectations others have assigned to us - most notably our families of origin - that we miss out on what we’re capable of being. A friend of mine captures it beautifully in her blog post, “Letting Go of Living Up to Others Expectations.” It’s brilliant insight mentions how technically, nowhere in life are we taught to understand and live up to our own expectations. There’s research to back up the well-crafted points and what you’ll learn is astounding.
Learn about emotions
At the most basic level, emotions are an instant information system. They deliver insights about you that is vital to your health and well-being. They serve as a gauge in revealing your authentic self; but only if you’re tuned in enough to listen. The only way to learn from emotions is to tune into them; not avoid them. Are you courageous enough to do this? Considering the lack of understanding we have about emotions, it’s not surprising that a majority of individuals are uncomfortable with the thought of genuinely learning more about theirs. In a world where we’re rewarded for accomplishing the next level in our careers, gain satisfaction from buying a bigger home or the latest technological device, it may be difficult to see the benefit of gaining knowledge of this type.
Identify or label emotions
As children, many of us may not have learned how to identify or label emotions. Getting comfortable with this requires developing a comfort level with numbers one through three above. The benefits of identifying and labeling emotions allow you to share what you’re feeling with a level of clarity that doesn’t exist otherwise. Rather than being ambiguous about what you’re feeling, labels provide universally understood descriptors that others can relate to and appreciate. Labels create a win-win for the person experiencing the emotions and the person witnessing another’s emotions.
Develop more empathy
Empathy has been defined in scientific journals as ‘I feel with you‘. With empathy, we share another’s pain and we are aware of the effects of our actions on them. The act of empathy is traceable in the brain. Empathy lights up the insula, which is an area of the brain that connects the flow of information between the front of the brain and the emotional areas (http://drdavidhamilton.com/why-empathy-is-important/). When we’re empathetic, we’re able to see the world through another person’s eyes. This can change the decisions and actions we take. Empathy is believed to be the most important skill you can practice. It leads to greater success personally and professionally and allows you to become happier the more you practice.
Compassion, has been defined as ‘I feel for you’. With compassion, the focus moves a little in the direction of wishing them freedom from their pain (http://drdavidhamilton.com/why-empathy-is-important/). In the brain, compassion sees many of the same areas lit as with empathy but with the addition of the prefrontal cortex (left side), which is the area above the eyes that is involved in decision making. My interest in compassion led me to an infographic I felt compelled to share: The Top 10 Scientific Benefits to Compassion (http://www.emmaseppala.com/top-10-scientific-benefits-of-compassion-infographic/#.V5Zg7c6cFZU). Completely amazing and worth the side trip.
Going back to Sigal Barsade's thoughts on emotions in the workplace, do you agree with his statement that "emotions travel from person to person like a virus?" Why? Why not?