November, 2019 — 7min Reading time

Emotions at the working place – no thanks or yes please?

An article byMartina Stadler

No matter where we are or what we do – they are lurking everywhere: emotions and feelings…whereas in the following we will talk more about the unpleasant type of these life partners. At the working place many of us find it especially difficult to deal with them. The rejected proposal, a harmful comment or 'simply' the colleague’s coffee cup that just does not find its way into the dishwasher… And here they are to attack us: anger, rage, fear, bitterness, disappointment, shame, powerlessness…

Impulsive people do not really think about it. A decent thunderstorm refreshes the air!
Even if they have from now on the reputation of a choleric by this rampage. Where thin-skinned types do sometimes loose the fight against the tears and are not rarely considered as 'hysterical'.
With that in mind we grant these permanent life companions asylum in our desk drawer, put them in the pocket after working hours and unleash them not before we are at home. And woe betide him or her who runs into us first...
After all, rather leaving our emotions at home?
Despite this unspoken business rule our day-to-day triggers feelings of any kind. Scientists discovered long ago that suppressed feelings do cost us dear. On the one hand, no one scores with bad mood in a team. On the other hand, long absenteeism due to illness (e.g. slipped discs, tinnitus or burnout) burden the staff as well as the company.
Emotional intelligence is the magic word that even makes CEOs listen attentively.

Executives increasingly need a high competence, to recognize emotions and to control themselves.

Particularly executives need an increasingly high competence to recognize emotions and to control themselves. Nevertheless in our western culture, emotions lead a shadowy existence so far. Most of us did not learn to deal with them constructively. We are rather trained to live outwards than being in contact with ourselves. Life rather happens in our head: "What do others think about what I should say and do?" Our repertoire of swearwords is often larger than the vocabulary that helps us to describe clearly our emotional state. Reason enough to deal more with our inner life. What are emotions?

Emotions are the driving force of our life and an indicator for fulfilled or rather unfulfilled needs.

They are the driving force of our life and basically an indicator for fulfilled or rather unfulfilled needs. True emotions do not lie, thus they can reach something which is essential for every relationship and cooperation: trust. What do emotions help for? Emotions strongly influence human communication. They are the drivers in conflicts and the key to mutual understanding. Only by expressing emotions we can credibly disclose ourselves – and come across authentically. Without emotions as guideposts we do not have any orientation about what is good or bad for us. How do emotions arise? That is obviously isn’t it? The other one is responsible for my emotions. He annoys me! Maybe you experienced in your childhood phrases like: "Your mum will be very upset, if you…" Oh – I am causing other people’s feelings! In reality we create our emotions ourselves: by squaring and evaluating any sensual perception in our brain (seeing, hearing, smelling…), which does not have any power by its own.

Only with our personal assessment an emotional reaction arises.

So – fine for me. But how does this knowledge help me in my job? I come into the office in the morning. Looking at the used dishes on the dishwasher my good mood is blown away: "How much more do I have to mention this? I am not the kitchen help in here, am I? And again trouble is in sight.

Emotions have a signal function

Stop! I remember: emotions have a signal function. They bring us into a positive force if we build a bridge between the actual situation and our emotions, feelings and interests. What is my purpose? Do I feel exploited by others? Do I feel the others do not care about order and cleanliness? Beware! Not everything that sounds like an emotion is an emotion. Even talking about guilt or thoughts our language uses words like "feel or feelings".

Taking a look in a list of "real emotions" provides good services here

Taking a look in a list of "real emotions" provides good services here. You can find words like confused or embittered,…no, this isn’t it – but disappointed, frustrated, that appeals to me. Slowly I get in touch with myself. A clean kitchen is quite important for me. And yes - I want to be taken seriously and respected. Yes, exactly – that's it! The anger I just had vanishes. Two of my colleagues step into the kitchen. I talk to them: Looking at the dishes here, I am disappointed. I would like to be respected when I wish that everyone cleans up his stuff. Would you please tell me what does prevent you of not doing it? I feel a distinct consternation at them. Clearing their throats. While one colleague fills the dishwasher he tells: "You know that is the force of habit. I will pay closer attention to it from now on." Taking emotional reactions seriously and dealing with them constructively effect connection and contact – to myself and to my fellow humans. Life is going to be even more worth living, more loveable, easier and more colourful… In this sense: Emotions at the working place? – Yes please!

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