Navigating emotions at work: Mindful work culture

To emote is to be human. But is there space for such an integral part of human nature in our offices? Traditionally, professionals were expected to suppress their emotions and any form of expression beyond work matters was accounted as unprofessional. In order to maintain a harmonious workspace, employers used to discourage employees from expressing feelings of disappointment and frustration. But over the years, employers and top management have realised that emotions govern various aspects of one’s work life. 

From decision making to collaboration for ideas, from motivation to communication; emotions affect almost everything at work. And overlooking such an important part of an employee’s work life will only lead to preventable mistakes.

Fortunately, times are changing (albeit slowly) and today, many organisations are more open about employees having a platform to express their views and concerns. Many are even forming emotional cultures that help employees understand the norms and to what extent they can express feelings at work.

Having said that, it is important for professionals to also navigate their emotions at work to ensure a mindful work culture is fostered. Let us deep dive into understanding how this can be done.

How to deal with criticism at work?

Dealing with criticism and feedback
Feedback and criticism are part and parcel of any job profile. When shared constructively, they help the recipient make amends to achieve both personal and organisational goals. But handling them in the right way without letting them disappoint you can be quite difficult. Here are a few healthy ways to deal with criticism and feedback.

1. Control your reaction & process the criticism

  • Your reaction will act as an indicator of your maturity and professionalism. Make sure to take a deep breath and pause to ponder if the criticism makes you angry. If it does then refrain from reacting immediately.  
  • Another important fact to note is that between verbal and non verbal communication, the latter is taken by many as your honest reaction. Do control your body language and facial expressions at that particular moment. 
  • Once you have thought through and understood why your work or actions were criticised, you can always convey politely if you feel something was unfair.

2. Don’t take the criticism personally
We know it is easier said than done but criticism of your work is not an extension of you and you should not take it personally. All you need to do is understand where you went wrong and not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

3. Express appreciation
Even though our egos might not let us accept the criticism, do make an active effort to acknowledge the person’s honesty and let them know that you will actively work towards bringing the necessary changes.

How does stress affect your work?

Understanding the effect of emotions on physical health
Emotions when expressed freely without any fear of judgement can help one lead a healthy and happy work life. On the other hand, when one is unable to communicate what they are feeling, the bottled up emotions can harm one’s health. Few of the leading physical concerns faced are:

  • Chronic stress that can affect heart’s health
  • Depletion of brain’s chemicals required for happiness
  • Weak immune system
  • Body aches
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The impact on an employee’s physical health in turn affects their performance and productivity which not only demotivates them but also hampers the organisational goals. It is important for both employees and employers to understand the advantages of clear expression of emotions.

While employees must make sincere efforts to communicate their emotions effectively, employers must also create a safe space for their colleagues to open up. Here’s how they can do their part.

  1. frequently asking employees about their well being
  2. responding in a compassionate manner when an employee expresses their frustration
  3. working together on providing trainings such as conflict resolution trainings
  4. Creating anonymous feedback systems and open one to one conversations 

Thus it can be concluded that expression of emotions plays a crucial role in helping employees be innovative and productive. Navigating emotions at work also helps one lead a mindful work culture and achieve work life balance.

Have any thoughts on the emotional culture of the workplace? Let us know in the comment section below.

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