“When dealing with people, we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” This is Dale Carnegie’s advice to leaders who wish to motivate teams to perform better and build positive work cultures. Which means, we need to create space for emotions at work, and recognize that pretty much everything we do has an emotional response attached to it. Did you smile at work today? Were you bored in a meeting? Upset about losing a customer? These are all emotions.

To build a workplace that welcomes emotions, we need to know what emotions people experience at work. Research shows that the top three positive emotions felt by employees are:

  • Comfortable (47.8%)
  • Satisfied (37.1%)
  • Enthusiastic (36.6%)

The study, conducted by Quantum Research, further goes on to show that, individual contributors tend to feel comfortable more often than managers. This might be a sign that managers are stressed or that they don’t feel they have enough support at work. On the other hand, managers tend to feel energetic, and enthusiastic more often than individual contributors. This may be because managers often act as cheerleaders, facilitators, coaches, and conflict resolvers to their teams.

The top three negative emotions people felt at work are:

  • Frustrated (56.2%)
  • Stressed (45.1%)
  • Anxious (30.4%)

Unaddressed and bottled-up negative emotions can be challenging for employees, teams, and organizations. They increase stress levels, create barriers between employees, and may impact productivity, innovation, and customer service. And the danger with negative emotions, is that they spread faster than positive ones, adding to the intensity of the workplace.

The responses in the above study show that managers feel stressed and frustrated more often than individual contributors, but feel anxious less often. The difference in anxiety levels between employees and managers might mean that managers need to communicate better or provide better tools and resources for employees to get work done.

Essentially, whether it is to reduce the impact of negative emotions, or to amplify positive ones, the time-tested recommendation is to encourage quality one-on-one time between managers and their teams, so people can feel heard or get the space to share what they need to. It all boils down to creating safety in those conversations. How do you plan to do that?

Leave a Reply