Managing Emotions in the workplace article from Knowledge@Wharton puts together what I feel and believe in. Being more of a people person and preferring to work in ace teams – emotions do play a important role in my life at work. I personally feel there is never an end to learn how to manage them. Just quoting those lines I feel were important for my reference. Go read that link if are reading this …
“We engage in emotional contagion,” says Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace. “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.”In the paper, Barsade and Gibson consider three different types of feelings:
- Discrete, short-lived emotions, such as joy, anger, fear and disgust.
- Moods, which are longer-lasting feelings and not necessarily tied
to a particular cause. A person is in a cheerful mood, for instance, or
- Dispositional, or personality, traits, which define a person’s
overall approach to life. “She’s always so cheerful,” or “He’s always
looking at the negative.”
All three types of feelings can be contagious, and emotions don’t have to be grand and obvious to have an impact. Subtle displays of emotion, such as a quick frown, can have an effect as well, Barsade says.
The researchers’ paper discusses a concept known as “emotional labor,” in which employees regulate their public displays of emotion to complywith certain expectations.
Part of this is “surface acting,” in which, for instance, the tired and stressed airline customer service agent forces himself to smile and be friendly with angry customers who have lost their luggage.
That compares to “deep acting,” in which employees exhibit emotions they have worked on feeling. In that scenario, the stressed-out airline worker sympathizes with the customer and shows emotions that suggest empathy.
The second approach may be healthier, Barsade says, because it causes less stress and burnout, particularly emotional exhaustion from having to regulate one’s emotions and “play a role.”
Barsade says research suggests that positive people tend to do better in the workplace, and it isn’t just because people like them more than naysayers. Positive people cognitively process more efficiently and more appropriately. If you’re in a negative mood, a fair amount of processing is going to that mood. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re more open to taking in information and handling it effectively.”
While you can’t necessarily change your coworkers, people can take steps to avoid catching a negative mood, according to Barsade.
Barsade’s research has taken her into a variety of workplaces, most recently long-term care facilities. Her research found that in facilities where the employees report having a positive workplace culture — she calls it a “culture of love” — the residents end up faring better than residents in facilities with a less compassionate and caring work culture. The residents reported experiencing less pain, made fewer trips to the emergency room, and were more likely to report being satisfied and in a positive mood.