Your Emotions at Work Matter
The workplace is where growth happens — and your feelings are a big part of it.
Dear Big Selfer,
In our culture, we’re used to making the distinction between professional and personal life. We take it for granted. But if you give it some thought, does it make sense to draw such a clear line between the two?
More and more people want to look at work as something more than just a means of putting food on the table. Sure, we all need to make a living first. But if you’re here, reading something called “The Big Self Letter,” I’m guessing you also want your work to enrich you in some way.
Maybe it’s about learning practical skills. Maybe it’s about overcoming your fears, or finding out how to work with a team. Whatever you’re hoping your work to teach you, one thing is certain:
The emotions you experience on the way play a big role in the process.
I believe it’s our (mostly overlooked) emotional life that holds the key to tapping into our full potential. So let’s not treat work as a cold, strictly professional endeavor. Let’s recognize it’s a part of our personal growth, too — and so are the emotions we experience at work.
Here are a couple of pieces from Big Self to remind you about that.
In her recent piece, Jessica Donahue speaks of emotional management in leadership. When leaders are oblivious to their emotions at work, they run the risk of projecting their moods on their teams — for better or worse.
Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion. While it’s a completely natural thing for humans, leaders need to be aware of when and how it happens. As Jessica explains:
“None of us are impermeable to ‘catching’ the emotions of others or having the occasional bad day that takes a toll on our attitude. But sometimes, we forget the impact we have on the team around us.
As a leader, you have a responsibility to both be aware of this phenomenon and to do your best to mitigate the negative effects you can have on the emotional wellbeing of your team.”
To better understand how emotional contagion works and what you can do to manage it, read Jessica’s piece in full.
There can be many reasons behind unhappiness at work. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being the wrong person in the wrong position.
But what if you find yourself despising the work you once used to dream of? Is it possible to revive that happiness you used to feel without changing your job?
I found that, at least to some extent, it is. That’s because work happiness depends not just on your role, but also, on how you approach it.
“Most people assume that work satisfaction is primarily about what we do. But more often than not, it’s also related to how we do it. If you approach work with a presumption that things should be different than they already are, you’re arguing with reality.
That’s a quick recipe for unhappiness — at work, but also in other areas of life.”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for a different career if you feel so inclined. But while you're at your current job, you might as well make it a bit more enjoyable — here’s how.
Remember that your emotions at work matter. They’re not just a negligible addition to your professional or personal experience.
They’re the vital building block of it.
We often think that we want specific things, experiences, and people to fill our days. In reality, we’re after the emotions associated with them.
So why not simplify your life — and take care of those emotions in the first place?
That’s a question I’m leaving you with for the rest of your workweek.
Marta, editor of Big Self