Do you practice No Hard Feelings?

Consider this scenario: You’re in a work meeting when your CEO surprises you with some unexpected praise. Instead of expressing gratitude, you keep your cool and put on your best poker face, fearful of seeming emotional in front of your coworkers. Consider the following scenario. You’re working on a difficult task when a bothersome coworker interrupts you. Rather than telling him how frustrated you are, you remain silent.

Does this sound familiar? The reality is that most of us hide our emotions at work. That’s a shame, because, as Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy’s book No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work explains, a healthy emotional workplace leads to more than just happier employees. It also increases a corporation’s performance.

Would you rather work in an office where everyone greets each other with a cheerful “hi” in the hallway and shares a happy or sad moment? Or one in which folks act enthused at their desks but then disappear into the restroom for a lengthy, lonely cry.

It makes a difference in the workplace to have a positive emotional culture. Organizations that discourage compassion and thankfulness, for example, have higher worker turnover rates, according to a research by Kim Cameron, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Meanwhile, study from Berkeley professor Barry Staw found that people who work under harsh managers are more likely to make poor decisions and lose key knowledge.

It makes a difference in the workplace to have a positive emotional culture. Organizations that discourage compassion and thankfulness, for example, have higher worker turnover rates, according to a research by Kim Cameron, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Meanwhile, study from Berkeley professor Barry Staw found that people who work under harsh managers are more likely to make poor decisions and lose key knowledge.

A sense of belonging is another method to foster a positive emotional culture. It’s a wise investment because, according to a 2017 New York Times story, a sense of not belonging among employees is one of the leading predictors of attrition. According to Google’s own research, employees who are greeted warmly by their bosses on their first day at work are more productive nine months later.

So borrow a concept from IDEO, a design firm where Duffy, one of the authors, works. The company conducts a first-day interview with each new hiring, during which everyone who interviewed the new hire expresses their excitement for him or her to join. They go even further: Duffy discovered a pack of her favorite snacks waiting for her on her desk on her first day of work after filling out a humorous onboarding survey a few weeks before her start date! It was a small gesture, but it made her feel good about her new job right away.

While we all have a role to play in fostering a positive emotional culture at work, leaders bear a unique burden. After an eight-year absence as CEO, Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks in 2008. He wept in front of his staff while standing on a stage. Starbucks had been having difficulties prior to his return. Sales were rapidly declining on a daily basis. Schultz, who grew up in poverty, was well aware that his employees were concerned about the future. As a result, he chose to remove a mask that few employees, let alone CEOs, are willing to remove in front of their peers. He displayed his raw, human emotion in front of his colleagues.

It is critical for leaders to express their feelings. According to a 2012 study published in The Leadership Quarterly, employees who have a personal connection with their leaders perform better and treat their coworkers more respectfully.

Leaders, on the other hand, must choose carefully what feelings they share and how they share them. No one wants to hear their boss’s worries and concerns about the future without being reassured that everything will be fine.

Indeed, leaders who express too much emotion, particularly fury, risk losing their authority. Employees dealing with an angry manager exhibited reduced willingness to work in a 2015 lab trial at the University of Amsterdam. Employee stress levels were lowered by almost 30% when supervisors controlled their words and body language during critical situations.

So Howard Schultz wasn’t just wallowing in terror when he let his tears flow onstage in front of his colleagues. Instead, he went on to sketch out a detailed strategy for reviving Starbucks. Schultz received over 5,000 emails in the following month expressing gratitude for his revealed vulnerabilities and his future plans. By 2010, the stock price of Starbucks had reached new highs.

So, if you’re a leader, be open to sharing your emotions. However, be selective. Don’t go overboard. And don’t express frustration, wrath, or fear without a plan to address the root causes of those feelings. This may not be a simple assignment, but if you don’t step gently, you risk overloading your workers. Feeling overwhelmed brings nothing beneficial.

What are the possibilities that you’ll look back on your life and wish you had worked longer hours? Probably not very high. Yet, far too many of us not only work long hours, but also come home and stress about work throughout dinner, during a workout, in bed at night, or even in our dreams.

If your mood and life are becoming increasingly dominated by work, a simple strategy is to simply strive to care less about your work and more about yourself. Take a vacation. That is the first practical move you can take. Surprisingly, according to a 2017 MarketWatch report, more than half of all Americans do not take all of their paid vacation time.

As a result, leaders can play a role in providing some encouragement. According to Project: Time Off’s research, the majority of employees claim their managers send mixed or negative messages regarding taking time off, or say nothing at all. They discovered, however, that if they were encouraged, practically everyone would take more vacations. So, leaders, start supporting vacations today to invest in your team’s health and happiness.

Take what breaks you can if you can’t go on vacation. Consider the management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group. They implemented a policy of predictable time off, allowing each employee to have one weeknight off per week. As a result, Employees were happier and less inclined to resign when they knew they would have one work-free evening per week. In addition, the corporation established a culture in which employees were concerned about one another’s health.

While taking a vacation is vital, it can be difficult to avoid carrying over our work habits into our personal lives. A better strategy? Be completely ineffective. If you’re a budding pianist, for example, try to approach your activity with a laid-back attitude. Forcing yourself to practice every weekday at 9:00 p.m. and feeling guilty if you skip a day won’t help you relax after a long day at work. According to a Duke University study, we like our leisure activities less when we create frameworks around them.

So embrace being completely unproductive and less enthusiastic about your job. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about it. It simply means that you should aim to strike the correct balance.

Now let’s look at what you can do if your issue is that you simply don’t care. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, only 15% of employees are engaged at work. That means a lot of us are fighting to find the motivation to accomplish our jobs every day.

If you’re looking for a boost, it’s time to figure out what drives you. And, unfortunately, a morning coffee isn’t enough. Control is so vital to our sense of motivation that we value it more than power. When given the option, those who profess to want employment that give them power really select jobs with a lot of freedom, according to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

And there’s plenty of proof in the business sector that companies prosper when their employees have control. Best Buy implemented a radical policy known as the Results-Only Work Environment in 2001, which said that all employees should stop doing anything they considered was a waste of time. Furthermore, employees had entire control over their time: arriving at the workplace at 2:00 p.m. and departing early were both acceptable options. The policy proved to be a big success. Younger employees preferred a later start time to escape rush hour, while parents on staff appreciated the opportunity to pick up their children early. Productivity increased as well as morale.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to work for a company as progressive as Best Buy. However, there are still ways to gain autonomy. Rather than prescribing processes, ask your boss to specify desired objectives. You can then find your own method of completing a task.

It’s also crucial to have a feeling of purpose to stay motivated. Consider the case of a group of Wharton School employees who make cold calls to raise money for scholarship funds. A university professor, Adam Grant, organized five-minute sessions between the award recipients and the callers. Four weeks later, callers who had spoken with the scholarship recipients – and heard how much their lives had been altered – had raised nearly twice as much money as those who had not.

We can all benefit from reflecting on or engaging with the people who will ultimately benefit from our work. If you’re a barista, for example, consider it an opportunity to brighten someone’s morning rather than another coffee made.

Check out my related post: Are you aware of your blind spots in decision making?

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  1. Love this post! We definitely have lost our way in the work/life balance of life and what are the things that motivate us. Very thoughtful and important piece. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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