How to embrace emotions at work | The Way We Work, a TED series


Translator: TED Translators admin
Reviewer: Krystian Aparta No matter how hard you might try, you can’t just flip a switch
when you step into the office and turn your emotions off. Feeling feelings is part of being human. [The Way We Work] A pervasive myth exists
that emotions don’t belong at work, and this often leads us to mistakenly equate professionalism
with being stoic or even cold. But research shows that in the moments
when our colleagues drop their glossy
professional presentation, we’re actually much more likely
to believe what they’re telling us. We feel connected to the people around us. We try harder, we perform better and we’re just generally kinder. So it’s about time that we learn
how to embrace emotion at work. Now, that’s not to say you should suddenly become
a feelings fire hose. A line exists between sharing,
which builds trust, and oversharing, which destroys it. If you suddenly let your feelings
run wild at work and give people far more information
than they bargained for, you make everyone around you uncomfortable and you also undermine yourself. You’re more likely to be seen as weak
or lacking self awareness, so, great to say you weren’t
feeling well last night — you don’t need to go
into every lurid detail about how you got reacquainted
with your half-digested dinner. So there’s a wide spectrum
of emotional expression. On one hand, you have under-emoters, or people who have a hard time
talking about their feelings, and on the other end are over-emoters, those who constantly share everything
that’s going on inside, and neither of these make
for a healthy workplace. So what’s the balance
between these two extremes? It’s something called
selective vulnerability. Selective vulnerability is opening up while still prioritizing stability
and psychological safety, both for you and for your colleagues. Luckily, anyone can learn to be selectively
vulnerable, with practice. Here are four ways to get started. First, flag your feelings
without becoming emotionally leaky. Bad moods are contagious, and even if you’re not vocalizing
what you’re feeling, chances are your body language
or your expressions are a dead giveaway. So if you are crossing your arms
or hammering on your keyboard, your coworkers are going
to know you’re upset. And if you don’t say anything, they might start to think
it’s about them and get worried. So if you are reacting
to a non-work-related event, so traffic for example, just flag it. You don’t need to go into detail. You can say something as simple as
“I’m having a bad morning. It has nothing to do with you.” Now if it’s a work-related event that’s causing you
to feel strong emotions, that brings us to point number two. Try to understand
the need behind your emotion, and then address that need. If you suddenly start to find
everyone around you irritating, sit back and reflect on that. And it might be that you’re irritable
because you’re anxious, and you’re anxious because you’re worried
about hitting a looming deadline. And in that case, you
can go back to your team to address that need
and say something like, “I want to make sure I get everything
done ahead of the deadline. Can you help me put together
a realistic plan to do that?” If you’re thinking of sharing, try and put yourself in
the other person’s shoes. So if what you’re about to say
would help you feel more supported and better understand the situation, then go ahead and share it. But if it gives you any kind of pause,
you might want to leave it out. And finally, read the room
and provide a path forward. If everyone on your team
has been pulling long hours, and you notice that one of your colleagues
seems particularly deflated or anxious, you can acknowledge that
and show some empathy, but then try to give
them something actionable that they could hold on to. And in this case, you could suggest that
you go to your manager and ask that your weekly meeting be pushed back a day
so you both have more time to work. You’re showing you’re invested
in their success, but also that you care
about their well-being. When we can be honest about what we feel, and freely suggest ideas, make mistakes and just not have to hide
every piece of who we are, we’re much more likely
to stay at the company for a long time. We’re also happier and more productive. So take a moment to reflect
on the emotional expression that you bring to work each day. And if you are prone
to oversharing, try editing. And if you’re a little bit more reserved, look for moments when you can
open up to your colleagues and be a bit vulnerable. And chances are,
there will be a big difference in how people respond to you. And selective vulnerability
might just become one of your most valuable tools.

31 Replies to “How to embrace emotions at work | The Way We Work, a TED series”

  1. Work ..A place to torture yourself by spending your entire day with people you would never associate with unless you had no other choice.

  2. Emotional or not, authenticity is paramount when you’re trying to make meaningful connections with people. Inside the office or out!

  3. I agree that emotions can't be divorced from the workplace. That being said, wearing exposing clothes is just as bad as sexually harassing someone. Exposing your body invokes primal emotions in people, and they are in that work environment without a choice to remove themselves from your emotional manipulation. There is a reasonable expectation of workers having exposed bodies in certain types of work. The people who chose to work at those types of establishment have de facto consented to being around workers in exposing clothes.

  4. This is great, in and out of the workplace. Recovering "oversharer." As someone who is looking for new work, perhaps in a new field, I find this very valuable. Clear, concise, solutions oriented communication, delivered after introspection into a situation is invaluable. Thank you.

  5. Why all these Ted Talks being suggested all of a sudden? I haven't watched one of their talks in years. Getting lonely Ted?

  6. I am or rather was heavily reserved at work causing my co workers to feel kinda awkward around me which made me feel pretty awkward cause i wasnt used to that since im a pretty talkative guy in privat but without really noticing at first i made progress step by step with small things like telling what i ate yesterday or did after work to the point when my co workers would also share more privat information with me which led to the overall working experience being, not a lot more, but more fun and less tense. It can really be the small things sometimes, if you are willing to share them that is

  7. Grow up snowflakes. DO YOUR JOB, stop whining, and leave the emotional baggage and childish drama at home. If you need more ‘support’ get a dog or hire a shrink – DO NOT bring it to work.

  8. Aww i missed robot class, "TiMe tO lEaRn" bleep supression is better that acceptance and toleration yesyes fit in work system
    Open up bet you know what to do

  9. If your feelings are interfering with your work, ask your boss to move the deadline down the road. Sounds like a winning strategy. To get replaced that is. If you can't do the job in the time that others can then you'll find yourself on the unemployment line.

  10. I live in a workplace where I can't connect with my team at all. I came from a very different culture, I can communicate sufficiently in english but not that great, we have different interests (food, hobbies, etc) and I just don't share their jokes and sense of humour at all. It's torture.

  11. People are often quick to notice what’s wrong, but it’s equally important to pay attention to and provide input on what is working to support development.

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