5 Ways to Improve Emotional Wellness at Work

Shelly Qualtieri

emotions at work, emotion regulation, workplace culture, mental health, workplace mental health, trauma-informed workplace

Consider how many times you have approached a colleague and asked them how they are only to be met with the automatic response the vast majority of us have – the typical “Good,” or “Fine, thanks.” Sometimes these exchanges can leave us feeling as if something was left unsaid. Or our intuition may be tingling because we know their answers don’t match how they’re really feeling.

Emotions are the world’s universal language, and becoming fluent in them can help you understand yourself and others – especially in a leadership role. A leader who has a strong understanding of emotions translates to strength in the workplace, both for themselves and their teams.

If we want to have a healthy and emotionally safe workplace, we need to pause and say, “I care and I really do want to know how you are.” small yet meaningful interactions can actually make a huge impact on a team.

Emotions are the world’s universal language, and becoming fluent in them can help you understand yourself and others – especially in a leadership role.

Dr. Goleman from the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has done extensive research on the emotional intelligence of leaders. Goleman’s research distinguishes the best leaders and individual performers in relation to their emotional abilities. In a recent issue of Time Magazine, it was stated that “People with higher emotional sensitivity in leadership roles tend to be more agreeable and open to new experiences, they’re more likely to be mentally and physically healthy and create less interpersonal drama, along with functioning more effectively.”

Emotionally sensitive leaders create an environment of understanding and increase not only the richness of personal relationships within their teams, but also the satisfaction of professional relationships and abilities among team members.

Have you ever heard or mumbled any of these statements: “Leave your feelings at home;” “Work is for work;” or “Close that emotional door, you are here to focus”? These are emotionally destructive statements in a workplace because it is impossible to sever your emotions between home and work. This is true for all of us, whether it be when we enter the workplace or when we leave work and return home.

A leader who has a strong understanding of emotions translates to strength in the workplace, both for themselves and their teams.

How many times have you found yourself reflecting on a tough day of work while you were at home, distracted by a difficult conversation or challenging project? How about being at work, but all you can think about is the argument you had with your partner, child, parent, or friend? More often than not, we are unable to separate our emotions from work to home and they impact our ability to be present in each setting. However, at work it can be much more complicated to know what to make of our emotions – it challenges our ego, social standing, value and stability, along with how others may judge us.

As leaders, having an understanding of our own emotions and leaning into them with others creates safer workplaces, increases connections within our teams, and the payoffs both personally and professionally can be enormous.

Here are some tips to improve emotional wellness at work for yourself and your staff:

  • Be sure you and your staff are taking regular breaks throughout your day. Get away from that screen and have some conversations.
  • Set up your workspace to be a happy, productive environment. For many, this has been more challenging because of working from home due to COVID-19. However, this is a great conversation to have with your staff to see how you may be able to support them. Keep in mind that this may be a great experience for some and highly stressful for others.
  • Change your perspective by having a conversation with someone in order to understand their perspective on any big challenges or emotions they may be experiencing.
  • Set some time aside each week to have a good laugh and shake off the small stuff with your team.
  • Take a peek and see if you and staff can find a silver lining to the situation COVID-19 has caused. Just because it feels tough right now doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever.

 

In short, there is always a lot to learn about emotions and leadership. Spending time discovering who you are, how you present yourself, and your willingness to tune in to your emotions as a leader will allow your teams to share more openly with each other. COVID-19 has only made navigating our emotions in the workplace more difficult, and the boundaries between our personal and professional lives have never been so blurry. So go ahead and ask, “How are you really doing?”


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Author: Shelly Qualtieri
Trainer, 
ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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