How are you feeling today? Wait, don’t drop the façade, and unmask how you really feel, whatever you do!
This is the context most of us live and work in: leave your emotions at the door, be stoic and keep a stiff upper lip. So, what is the harm in showing our emotions, vulnerability, and humanity at work?
Whichever way you want to look at it, emotions are inevitable in the workplace, because emotions are a natural part of being human. However, we often choose to suppress our natural emotions, particularly at work. That’s not to say that everyone’s behaviour, thoughts and emotions have never been affected by factors at work, it’s just that we choose not to show it when they are.
All of us have experienced being crushed by criticism, losing a client, saying goodbye to a colleague, smashing your quarterly objectives, not being listened to, hitting your sales target, feeling overwhelmed with work, feeling disheartened by not getting something perfect, or being micromanaged. Acknowledging our emotions in relation to events like these is important. It’s how we connect with ourselves and with others. It’s also essential to acknowledge and understand how we express those emotions (or not!) and how that impacts us and those around us.
A system of the brain which regulates emotion is the limbic system. It is responsible for how we feel and includes the hippocampus (which helps form memories) and the amygdala (which gives emotional meaning to the memories). Both the hippocampus and amygdala help the brain to form new memories, store those memories, recall them, and make sense of their emotional content.
It is common for people to suppress their emotion and hide how they are actually feeling, so if you do this, you’re in good company! We also all know people who can’t regulate their emotions well, which certainly makes us feel uncomfortable at work. Normally when we keep our emotions in, it’s because we are afraid to be judged or we feel we might be seen as weak and ‘emotional’. This is particularly the case for women. However, suppressing our emotions completely can have a detrimental effect too. It can weaken our relationships, increase our frustration, reduce our memory recall, exacerbate low self-esteem, increase anxiety and physical stress on the body.
To be able to regulate our emotions appropriately, we must be aware of our feelings in the moment, to be able to connect, manage and sometimes change or channel them. The Glassmoon System is a way to do this. It encourages people to acknowledge and share what they feel and how they see their own behaviours. It helps us identify how we interact with others, how we are motivated, and what makes us disengage. The Glassmoon System also helps to pinpoint where our focus lies and when, why, and where we make good or bad decisions.
All humans come with messy emotions attached, but emotions can be a powerful tool, if you know how to regulate them. Being human in the workplace means using and regulating our emotions to be more honest and authentic, build trust, create stronger personal connections, and improve our confidence, memory recall, problem solving and decision-making skills.
Leaders who recognise this is the way to get the best from our teams, are normally those who have the key skills of self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy and trust themselves. They will be able to create an environment and culture where people feel safe and supported to express emotions appropriately. In turn, this increases motivation, team performance, creativity, and intuition. Research has found that people working in cultures of joy and compassion show increased commitment and reduced burnout. Who wouldn’t want that?
Look out for our next Infographic which will give you tips on how to regulate your emotions.