Many of us work 40 hours a week for 45-50 years. That’s a huge amount of our lives spent in the workplace, so happiness at work is vitally important. Our workplace should be a positive environment in which we can thrive.
Emotions have long been acknowledged as either the ladders we scale or the eggshells on which we walk in the workplace. Our success or failure with these tricky balancing acts exerts a huge, shaping influence on our personality and self-worth, and consequently on our happiness.
Emotions are everywhere, and our emotions can have huge influence over the emotions of others – friends, family, and colleagues. They are tightly woven into our behaviour and decision making, even if we’re not quite aware of how. Within the workplace emotions can both create challenges and really benefit us and those around us. Being aware of our emotions can help us channel them in a productive way, improving happiness at work with a happier work environment, happier colleagues and a happier you.
So what challenges do emotions present for us in the workplace?
We can all speak to our emotional states in the workplace, particularly when we’re dealing with a lot of pressure. And there’s no denying that people are under ever-increasing levels of pressure these days. Some people we speak to reveal that they’re almost permanently in an overextended state. You may have heard of the buzz phrase ‘emotional contagion’: this is the phenomenon where one person’s emotional behaviour triggers similar emotions in others, having an almost domino effect. This can be extremely beneficial when we’re dealing with positive emotions, but particularly harmful when we’re dealing with negative ones. And we can all relate to that. We’ve all experienced the impact that just one person who’s stressing out – or having a bad day and taking it out on others – can have on the rest of the team. Trouble is, negative emotions spread like wildfire. Left unchecked, they can spawn quite toxic atmospheres.
The workplace has a lot of threats, there’s a lot of potential risk, and there’s a lot of things that can trigger our stress response. When we’re under threat, we tend to go into survival mode. This can inhibit us from engaging our conscious, ‘thinking’ brain, because our emotionally reactive brain takes over. Working with Lumina Emotion helps us get better at being more mindful and conscious of our emotions and helps us process them more effectively. Victor Frankel puts it best: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” How well we manage that space between stimulus and response – how aware we are of our emotions and how we choose to convey them – can really impact the mood in the workplace.
How can we boost happiness at work?
Just as negative emotions spread, so too do positive ones.
We can all do our best to contribute positively to the emotional atmosphere at work. Maintaining a positive attitude is perhaps more crucial than ever in these difficult times, as we know that uncertainty can breed fear. When it comes to positive emotions, a little can go a long way. However, it’s not all about them – we’re not all going to be happy all the time, and we shouldn’t try to be. Finding effective ways to express the full range of our emotions – including frustration, fear and so on – can help us develop deeper and more meaningful relationships in the workplace and build trust.
We tend to reserve a lot of what we feel only for those that we are closest to or feel safest with. We can sometimes find it difficult to know what’s appropriate, and may avoid saying what we really feel for fear of being judged. Certain work cultures can also subtly create unwritten rules as to which emotions are acceptable, and which are not.
Lumina Emotion helps us process our emotions by becoming more mindful and objective about what we think and feel. It also helps us challenge and validate our thoughts and emotions. This can help to boost emotional awareness which, in turn, can help us make better sense of our emotions and help us to articulate them in a more conscious, less reactive way. When we feel more in tune with our emotions, we can feel better able to connect with people, building trust. This can lead to deeper and more open communication, and ultimately can drive happiness at work.