Emotions at Work

August 13, 2007

Steve Roesler googled “emotions at work” and came up with a list of topics that confirms something I’ve always known – that emotion at work is a fearful topic for many people. The assumptions are that
• Emotion happens at home i.e. it’s personal
• Being emotional means being out of control
• Emotion is not masculine
• Emotion is negative
• Emotion is extraneous to everything the organisation stands for
The discussion on emotion at work invariably centres around the notion that emotion happens “somewhere else” and that emotion is destructive – nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Organisations are emotional and emotion generating environments and most of my work concerns working with individuals and groups helping them to understand what systemic intelligence is contained in emotional situations. Very often the emotional person (aka the scapegoat) is voicing a concern on behalf of a system – i.e. they are doing a job in the system that needs to be done..How many people do you know who roll home after a day at the office talking about the activity they did today as distinct from how they felt about the activity. Most “irrational” behaviour in organisations is very often a conscious representation of unconscious emotional issues that are repressed because of the “rules” that suggest that emotion is not welcome…
I’m one of those odd people who believe that we can’t decide to be rational-only because let’s face it, that’s a fairly irrational request…emotion is a vibrant and compelling type of data that can really contribute to learning .. But then again, we have examples of rational only entities – they are called bureaucracies – and the individual equivalents? sociopaths…Allowing emotion a place to breath doesn’t mean abandoning reason – it means allowing the whole person in the room and that can only be a good thing in my view.
Hat Tip to Mark for the link

5 People reacted on this

  1. Annette,
    Thanks for the kind mention.
    I am drawn toward your statement regarding “systemic intelligence…contained in emotional situations.”
    We seem to have a sympatico view diagnosing organizations and situations from a systemic perspective. (Uh, how else would one accurately do it?!)
    However, I’ve watched the systemic approach fall by the wayside over the past 10 years or so. The “need for speed” has, I believe, contributed to organizational life being viewed as a series of one-off situations to be dealt with transactionally and linearly.
    Perhaps we can rekindle the movement toward more accurate and meaningful ways of viewing the organization.
    Keep writing…

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you about speed getting in the way although I am more inclined towards systems-psychodynamic approaches (which a lot of people have even less time for!) which brings the unconscious processes into the mix as well..

  3. Annette,
    Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network says:
    It takes six seconds to manage anger
    It takes six seconds to create compassion
    It takes six seconds to change the world.
    Emotions are part of who we are. We are ourselves every where we are — even work. Of course, that doesn’t mean a meltdown every day and it does mean that we can have “good” days as well as “bad” days without head scratching and snickering.

  4. If you look at the second Google result for “emotions at work” you get an interview with my late father in law Peter Frost who wrote a great book called “Taoxic Emotions at Work” that looks at the role of the “toxin handler” in organizations.

Comments are closed.