Time to embrace Emotions at Work

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For a few years now there’s been research done towards the importance of emotions and the impact that they have in work environments, such as in the worker’s motivation to perform different tasks, in their health and wellbeing: both theirs and their teams’; and it can of course impact in their performance, production, and creative levels as well.

From an evolutionary perspective, which takes into account usefulness and adaptive value, emotions can be grouped into two categories: positive or negative, and they can impact the worker’s burnout risk levels.

Positive emotions

Positive emotions are useful for detecting opportunities and increasing personal strength. Its adaptive value is given because when people experience them, it increases the chances of personally evolving. When positive emotions are experienced frequently, a specific state emerges that favors the development of optimism, resilience, and empathic connection with colleagues.

Sustaining positive emotions at work can help you prevent burnout. Tools like Talkit help keep track of emotions and burnout risk.
Positive emotions at work. Illustration from Ouch!

Examples of positive emotions:

  • In control: Feeling at ease. It comes when people see that the tasks of which they’re in charge are being completed correctly, or there’s a confidence that stems from having the right resources to solve problems when they arise. 
  • Enthusiastic: It comes when there’s a high interest in performing tasks that favor achieving goals. The enthusiastic person feels energized, excited, strong, expectante, and very willing to perform tasks.
  • Relaxed: A feeling of ease and of high control of the situation, mainly driven by the absence of immediate urgencies and the calm that comes from feeling confident in one’s competence.
  • Proud: A feeling of great faith in one’s skills and competences. It’s characterized by high levels of perceived well-being and motivation, especially after reaching significant goals.
  • Active: Feeling active relates to a psychophysiological predisposition to work and solve current tasks vigorously and with interest.
  • Inspired: Feeling inspired translates into feeling quite lucid, focused and motivated to accomplish goals, finding new ideas or solutions other than the ones we would normally find.

Negative emotions

On the other hand, negative emotions operate as signals of threat or situations that require a solution. Negative emotions operate as detectors that activate when something is not going well, they activate to respond to current problems and they can trigger defensive behaviors such as flight, attack, retreat and self-preservation, whether we are conscious of it or not. Some of these negative emotions are: 

A sustained period of time with negative emotions can alter the emotional ratio and lead to burnout. A good way to avoid this is to keep track of burnout risk and keep a mood journal, both of which are possible with tools like Talkit.
Negative emotions at work. Illustration from Ouch!

Examples of negative emotions:

  • Concerned: Concern is a state of angst or fear for unfinished business or problems that require attention and specific responses to be solved.
  • Angry: Anger makes its appearance when a person is disturbed by something perceived as unfair or frustrating, when things are not fulfilled, or by situations that are out of their control, and it’s experienced as a very threatening event.
  • Anxious: A psychophysiological state, characterized by great restlessness, intense excitement and a feeling of insecurity in regards to pending matters. 
  • Bored: It refers to a feeling of tediousness and lack of joy when performing a task. It can be characterized by lack of interest and lack of perceived challenges at work.
  • Sad: Sadness is characterized by being an emotion in which a person experiences anguish from a loss or frequent feeling of insatisfaction. It can be caused by low levels of achievement, by having low professional growth expectations, or by the feeling of repeated failure.
  • Fearful: Fear is an experience of high anxiety and anguish when facing a situation that’s perceived as highly threatening, worsened by the perception of feeling ill-equipped or defenseless. If it’s mild, it helps the person evaluate risk.

Self-awareness and tools

It’s of utmost importance to develop self-awareness of one’s emotions in order to navigate relationships at work, both with colleagues, superiors, or people of which we are in charge. But most importantly, it’s key to navigate the relationship we have with ourselves. 

It’s always great to speak to health professionals to deal with our feelings, but there are also daily tools, like Talkit, that can help us keep track of our emotions and make sense of them.

Now that you have a frame of reference and you can speak the language of emotions, we invite you to have a daily check-in session with yourself and see where you’re at.


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