Top-Rated Free Essay


Topics: Emotion / Pages: 18 (4474 words) / Published: Oct 21st, 2013
Emotions in the workplace play a large role in how an entire organization communicates within itself and to the outside world. “Events at work have real emotional impact on participants. The consequences of emotional states in the workplace, both behavioral and attitudinal, have substantial significance for individuals, groups, and society”.[1] “Positive emotions in the workplace help employees obtain favorable outcomes including achievement, job enrichment and higher quality social context”.[2] “Negative emotions, such as fear,anger, stress, hostility, sadness, and guilt, however increase the predictability of workplace deviance,”,[3] and how the outside world views the organization.
“Emotions normally are associated with specific events or occurrences and are intense enough to disrupt thought processes.”.[4] Moods on the other hand, are more “generalized feelings or states that are not typically identified with a particular stimulus and not sufficiently intense to interrupt ongoing thought processes”.[4] There can be many consequences for allowing negative emotions to affect your general attitude or mood at work. “Emotions and emotion management are a prominent feature of organizational life. It is crucial “to create a publicly observable and desirable emotional display as a part of a job role.” [5]
The role of emotions[edit]
Emotions play such a big role in our lives that there are more than 600 words in English to describe them verbally, not to mention 43 facial muscles to express them physically. And although human beings speak more than 6,000 languages, about 90 percent of people across different cultures have no trouble figuring out if someone is registering happiness, surprise, or disgust just by looking at the person’s face. We are supersensitive to the slightest shift in people’s facial expressions, especially if they are registering fear or anger. [6] We are not slaves to emotional cues and triggers. We can use reason to evaluate our emotions, interpret them, and even reassess our initial reaction to them. We can soften their impact or shift their meaning.[6] In other words, we can control our own emotions as well as the effect that other people’s emotions have on us. In fact, the ability to detect, assess, and control one’s emotions is one of the predictors of success in relating to the Other. So, somewhat paradoxically, connecting with the Other depends on developing a deep understanding of ourselves — what triggers our strongest emotions, and how the emotions we show impact others.[6] For example, an executive who understands that looming deadlines bring out the worse in her won’t schedule an important meeting if she has work piling up. A manager who knows that talking about certain subjects tends to get him angry will think twice before reacting to an opinion that would normally set him off.[6]
Positive emotions[edit]
Positive emotions at work such as high achievement and excitement have “desirable effect independent of a person's relationships with others, including greater task activity, persistence and enhanced cognitive function.” [2] “Strong positive emotions of emotionally intelligent people [include] optimism, positive mood, self-efficacy, and emotional resilience to persevere under adverse circumstances. “.[7] “Optimism rests on the premise that failure is not inherent in the individual; it may be attributed to circumstances that may be changed with a refocusing of effort.” [7] Those who express positive emotions in the workplace are better equipped to influence their coworkers favorably. “They are also more likable, and a halo effectmay occur when warm or satisfied employees are rated favorably on other desirable attributes.” [2] It is likely that these people will inspire cooperation in others to carry out a task. It is said that, “employees experience fewer positive emotions when interacting with their supervisors as compared with interactions with coworkers and customers.” [8] Specific workers such as “service providers are expected to react to aggressive behaviors directed toward them with nonaggressive and even courteous behavior…also to engage in what has been termedemotional labor by demonstrating polite and pleasant manners regardless of the customer’s behavior.” [9]
Emotional labor/ emotional work[edit]
“As the nature of the U.S. and global economies is increasingly transforming from manufacturing to service, organizational participants are coping with new challenges, and those challenges often involve complex processes of emotion in the workplace. The initial shift in the economy involved a move to customer service (including industries such as retailing,restaurants and the travel industry) , leading to scholarly consideration of the way emotional communication is used in the service of customers and in the advancement of organizational goals. This type of work has come to be labeled as emotional labor...the emotions and displays in emotional labor are largely inauthentic and are seen by management as a commoditythat can be controlled, trained and set down in employee handbooks.” [10] “This relates to the induction or suppression of feeling in order to sustain an outward appearance that produces a sense in others of being cared for in a convivial safe place.”.[11] Emotional labor refers to effort to show emotions that may not be genuinely felt but must be displayed in order to “express organizationally desired emotion during interpersonal transaction.”[5] “Commercialization of emotional labor and the trends towards the homogenization of industrial and service-sector labor processes have, in turn, been shaped by the adoption of new management practices designed to promote feeling-rules and personal patterns of behavior that enhance the institutions or enterprises performance or competitive edge”.[11] In order to define the image that they want their organizations to portray, leaders use a “core component of “emotional intelligence” to recognize emotions.”.[12] that appear desirable. Organizations have begun using their employee’s “emotion as a commodity used for the sake of profit”.[10] Emotional labor inhibits workers from being able to participate in authentic emotional work. Emotional work is described as “emotion that is authentic, not emotion that is manufactured through surface acting…rarely seen as a profit center for management”.[10] “The person whose feelings are easily aroused (but not necessarily easily controlled) is going to have far more difficulty in dealing with emotionally stressful situations. In contrast, empathic concern is hypothesized to have positive effects on responsiveness in internation and on outcomes for the worker. A worker with empathic concern will have feelings for the client but will be able to deal more effectively with the client’s problems because there is not a direct sharing of the client’s emotions”.[13] “Although emotional labor may be helpful to the organizational bottom line, there has been recent work suggesting that managing emotions for pay may be detrimental to the employee”.[14] Emotional labor and emotional work both have negative aspects to them including the feelings of stress, frustration or exhaustion that all lead to burnout. “Burnout is related to serious negative consequences such as deterioration in the quality of service, job turnover, absenteeism and low morale…[It] seems to be correlated with various self report indices of personal distress, including physical exhaustion, insomnia, increased use of alcohol and drugs and marital and family problems”.[15]
Negative emotions[edit]
Negative emotions at work can be formed by “work overload, lack of rewards, and social relations which appear to be the most stressful work-related factors”.[16] “Cynicism is a negative affective reaction to the organization. Cynics feel contempt, distress, shame, and even disgust when they reflect upon their organizations” (Abraham, 1999). Negative emotions are caused by “a range of workplace issues, including aggression, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, computer flaming, blogging, assertiveness training, grapevines, and non verbal behavior”.[17] “Stress is the problem of each person feeling it. [Negative emotions] can be caused by “poor leadership, lack of guidance, lack of support and backup. Employees lack of confidence in their abilities to deal with work demands… and their lack of confidence in coworkers… can also create prolonged negative stress”.[18] Showing stress reveals weakness, therefore, employees suppress their negative emotions at work and home. “People who continually inhibit their emotions have been found to be more prone to disease than those who are emotionally expressive”.[5]
Psychological and Emotional- “Individuals experiencing job insecurity have an increased risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and somatic complaints”.[19] Marital and Family- Spouses and children can feel the crossover effects of burnout brought home from the workplace. Depleted levels of energy which effect home management is another consequence. Organizational- Negative feelings at work effect “employee moral, turnover rate, commitment to the organization”.[19]

Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. --Lou Holtz

Managing Emotions in the Workplace: Do Positive and Negative Attitudes Drive Performance?
--by Knowledge@Wharton, syndicated from, Aug 25, 2012
You know the type: coworkers who never have anything positive to say, whether at the weekly staff meeting or in the cafeteria line. They can suck the energy from a brainstorming session with a few choice comments. Their bad mood frequently puts others in one, too. Their negativity can contaminate even good news. "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."
Barsade is the co-author of a new paper titled, "Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations?" ("Affect" is another word for "emotion" in organizational behavior studies.) The answer: Employees' moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership.
"The state of the literature shows that affect matters because people are not isolated 'emotional islands.' Rather, they bring all of themselves to work, including their traits, moods and emotions, and their affective experiences and expressions influence others," according to the paper, co-authored by Donald Gibson of Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business.
An "affective revolution" has occurred over the last 30 years as academics and managers alike have come to realize that employees' emotions are integral to what happens in an organization, says Barsade, who has been doing research in the area of emotions and work dynamics for 15 years. "Everybody brings their emotions to work. You bring your brain to work. You bring your emotions to work. Feelings drive performance. They drive behavior and other feelings. Think of people as emotion conductors."
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 feeling down.
+ 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. She offers this example: "Say your boss is generally in very good humor, but you see him one day at a meeting and his eyes flash at you. Even if they don't glare at you for the rest of the meeting, his eyes have enunciated some valuable information that is going to have you concerned and worried and off center for the rest of the meeting."
Barsade suggests that while some people are better than others at controlling their emotions, that doesn't mean their coworkers aren't picking up on their moods. "You may not think you are showing emotion, but there's a good chance you are in your facial expression or body language. Emotions we don't even realize we are feeling can influence our thoughts and behaviors."
The researchers' paper discusses a concept known as "emotional labor," in which employees regulate their public displays of emotion to comply with 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."
But is there a downside to being too authentic? If the company is losing money and experiencing the effects of downsizing, should the manager, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, convey his despair to his workers? Or should the manager try to appear cheerful and act as if nothing is wrong? Barsade says it's possible for the manager to convey emotions that are both authentic and positive, saying something like, "I know you're worried. Things aren't looking good, but you know, we have a way out of this and we can work [on it] together." The employees will appreciate the honesty and take comfort in the optimism, she says.
Emotions as Valuable Data
Emotional intelligence -- buzz words already familiar in psychology and education -- is now talked about in business circles as well, Barsade says. Business schools are teaching executives how to be emotionally intelligent, and how to manage the emotions of their employees.
"The idea behind emotional intelligence in the workplace is that it is a skill through which employees treat emotions as valuable data in navigating a situation," according to the authors. "Let's say a sales manager has come up with an amazing idea that will increase corporate revenues by up to 200%, but knows his boss tends to be irritable and short-tempered in the morning. Having emotional intelligence means that the manager will first recognize and consider this emotional fact about his boss. Despite the stunning nature of his idea -- and his own excitement -- he will regulate his own emotions, curb his enthusiasm and wait until the afternoon to approach his boss."
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. They can tell themselves before attending a staff meeting that they are not going to be bothered by the person who shoots down everyone's ideas, or that they are not going to let that person become the focus of their attention at the meeting (reducing the possibility for contagion). Or they can change their office routine. Barsade gave the example of a manager who was dragged down at the start of every day when passing by the desk of an employee who either grunted or gave no acknowledgement. The manager took control and simply started following a different route through the office.
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.
Overconfidence Online
E-mail, instant messaging and video conferencing have introduced new challenges to the workplace, Barsade adds. E-mails and instant messages can be misunderstood because they are devoid of facial expressions, intonation and body language -- cues that help convey emotions. Some people, she says, work hard at making their emails neutral, with the downside of sometimes sounding curt. On the other hand, while some writers may add a smattering of exclamation points, question marks and capital letters in an attempt to convey more emotion, this can also be a dangerous route, particularly when attempting humor or sarcasm to drive home a point.
"How can emotions be best conveyed via these media?" the paper asks. "What is the effect of conveying emotionally charged messages via text, when these messages are more likely to be misconstrued? How must we re-think emotional contagion and other social processes in an organizational world in which many meetings take place online?"
The paper cites a study showing that people tend to be overconfident about their ability to convey the emotion they wish in an e-mail, particularly when they are trying to be funny or sarcastic. "Video conferencing, also increasing in its use, has more cues, but it is also not yet the same as interacting face to face, particularly in group situations. Given that these technologies continue to grow as a primary means of communication within the business world, it is crucial that we understand how the interpretation and communication of affect occurs in these contexts," the paper says.
Workplaces need to get smart about the best use of e-mail, Barsade states. Her advice is that "if something is important, and you know that the emotional context is going to be an issue, then pick up the phone; don't just rely on e-mails." And even the phone may not be good enough. "Sometimes, if it is really important, you just have to fly to where they are and meet them face-to-face to get the message across.
The Issue
Emotions occur naturally and can affect others in a positive or negative way. For example, a colleague who smiles at you and makes a pleasant comment while you are toiling at a thankless task can lift your spirit. Likewise, a co-worker who makes a nasty remark because of some temporary work problem can put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. The emotions of people working in close confines are contagious, particularly if people are not aware of how their moods and attitudes affect others. Even when people attempt to hide their emotions, they can still send off vibes through facial expressions, body language, mannerisms and general attitude.
Moods, both good and bad, are temporary conditions that can lift a work environment or bring it down. For example, if you arrive at the office one morning full of energy and enthusiasm for a project, you can potentially lift the moods of your work mates and make significant headway on your work. If you, or someone else, doesn’t bring the same mood the following day, work progress is likely to resume to its normal pace. Someone in a foul mood can actually hurt productivity, particularly if the person is a naysayer who impedes progress through negative commentary or an argumentative approach.
Emotional Personality
Some people are naturally upbeat, while others are naturally dour. Working directly with these individuals can significantly impact your own attitude, for better or for worse. A person's personality is more problematic, particularly if it’s negative. Unlike mood, personality traits don’t easily or quickly change. Recognizing this in a colleague can help you consciously block out negativity or avoid working directly with him whenever possible.
Your Emotions
Recognize how your own emotions impact your behavior in the workplace. If you are distressed, sad or angry, do you consciously or unconsciously express it to your co-workers? Recognizing your own triggers and the impact your emotions have on others can help you be more aware of your actions. You can also learn how to strategically change a workplace environment through emotional behaviors. Often empathy or even forced optimism can change the office dynamic for the better.

Control your anger and other negative emotions in the workplace

Kimberly Friedmutter CH.tLife Management ExpertKimberly Friedmutter


Maintaining emotional composure in the workplace is not only widely regarded as appropriate behavior, but is also expected in the professional setting. Like most expected behaviors, there are ramifications if inappropriate emotional outbursts occur. When emotions rise, ideally, one would keep their composure, not showing emotional strain or distress until an appropriate time presents itself.
Some negative emotions can present themselves when being at work. Negative emotions are considered anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt. We tend to default to putting our attention on 'anger' in the workplace, simply because serious cases make the news. However, any and all of the five basic negative emotions can have a bad impact the office environment. If you have trouble keeping your cool, follow this simple helpful advice.


know the difference between inappropriate and appropriate take yourself away from the trigger remember that emotions pass a simple exercise communicate your needs to others

act like nothing has happened bad mouth others for your bad behavior wait to fix what you have damaged be afraid to apologize to those you have affected ignore the significance of your behavior

Do know the difference between inappropriate and appropriate
There are two kinds of emotional responses. Emotions are natural and healthy neurochemical reactions to events. Most times, inappropriate emotional responses become apparent to you and others. If you can’t feel the difference, pay attention to how others are reacting. If you are acting inappropriately, you will notice that other people are negatively surprised or somehow affected by your reactions.
Do take yourself away from the trigger
Triggers are usually a person or event that you believe is causing your emotional response. This emotional upset is your signal to leave the room and compose yourself. To help compose yourself during this emotional upset, remove yourself from the stimulus and find a peaceful place to allow your emotions to get balanced. When you return to your office and emotions rise, keep your composure. Tap a pen, snap a rubber band, or squeeze a small hand ball to release negative energy.
Do remember that emotions pass
If you are emotionally healthy, emotions are fleeting like clouds passing through the sky. They come and they go. They occur due to floods of neurochemicals being released and re-absorbed within the brain. As time passes, so does the typical emotion. Whenever you are starting to feel heated, give yourself some time away to let the emotions pass by.
Do a simple exercise
This exercise is quick, easy to do, and extremely effective after a negative emotional event. It helps to be able to recognize the situation from your own eyes (associated) and also through the eyes of the other person involved (disassociated).
1. Close your eyes and imagine the event. During this event, you are looking through your own eyes (associated). Recognize and feel the emotions that you were feeling.
2. Imagine yourself floating into the other person, your trigger, and imagine the event occurring while looking through their eyes (disassociated). Recognize and feel the emotions that your trigger was feeling.
3. Imagine yourself floating in the air above the two of you, putting yourself in the third person position, looking down on the event (disassociated) imagining the event happen. Feel the emotions that both you and your trigger is feeling.
What commonly occurs during this exercise is an intense awakening of perspective. During step one, you will feel that your position and reaction was reasonable. During step two, the other person’s perspective or misunderstanding becomes reasonable. During step three, the truth of the event is experienced but without any emotional attachment. The emotion is released from the event, therefore helping to make the disruptive neurochemicals subside.
By successfully repeating this exercise at work and at home (this works for being in heavy traffic too) you can train yourself to feel your emotions right out of your day and out of your office!
Do communicate your needs to others
Most times, if someone is aware that you have a sensitivity to an issue, either personal or societal, they are willing to temper their behavior around your need. We often times shut down when we are distressed so the trigger is never given an opportunity to be helpful. The best way to help yourself is to allow others to know what is bothering you and how they might be able to help.

Do not act like nothing has happened
After an emotional outburst or any inappropriate behavior has occurred, you must address the issue verbally with those affected. There isn’t anything scarier to those around you than silence. Your coworkers will fear you and the workplace will suffer. Silence must be avoided once you have calmed down.
Do not bad mouth others for your bad behavior
It’s best to take responsibility for your actions. No one is to blame for your actions. There are no excuses. Blaming others for your inappropriate actions will just lead to animosity in the office. People want to do the right thing and if they have a problem with your negative behavior, it is time for you to address your problem.
Do not wait to fix what you have damaged
If you damaged property during your upset, you must take immediate steps to fix what you have damaged. If you have hurt someone during your outrage, you must reach out for professional help immediately. Your path of destruction is yours to fix and you must take responsibility sooner than later.
Do not be afraid to apologize to those you have affected
Apologizing for inappropriate behavior in the workplace, works! If you don’t address the issue, it appears to others as a problem. It either appears that you don’t notice, don’t care how you are perceived by others, or don’t care about others in general. None of these options are good.
Do not ignore the significance of your behavior
People in the workplace form a very primal pack, all working toward a common goal. When a pack member goes ‘emotionally rogue’ it makes the other members of the pack nervous. When the pack is nervous, they become distrusting and distant. The pack will continue to move toward the common goal, however, they may leave you behind. On the other hand, when you apologize, you are openly telling the pack that you recognize your inappropriate actions. They will forgive this problem as long as it does not become a pack problem. Everyone behaves inappropriately at some point, which bonds you to the others, as long as they believe you will be appropriate next time and time again.
SummaryWe are all doing the best we can both at home and at the office. When pressures mount the tendency is to release emotions on those who will be most affected. The problem with negative emotions in the workplace is the impact it has on your employer and employees. Respect is lost and potentially your job. There is a heightened sensitivity to workplace behavior and enrollment in anger management courses are soaring. Stress is high and tolerance is low. Do yourself and those around you a favor by keeping your emotion

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Emotions
  • Emotion
  • Emotions
  • Emotions, Facial Emotions
  • Emotions
  • Emotions
  • Emotion
  • Emotions
  • Emotions
  • Emotion