When an employee is labeled as “emotional” in the workplace, it conveys a negative connotation. Considered synonymous with being “unprofessional” and “irrational” in business settings, showing emotions in the workplace is considered taboo. These expectations rest on long-held stereotypes that often align with traditional gender roles: men should not have emotions, and women have too many emotions. Such expectations remove any room for passion in work or expression that is proportionate to an issue, conversation, or positive exchange in the workplace. People are taught to censor their emotions and communication in the workplace, lest they be seen as unreliable or unsteady contributors to the workforce.
But what if emotions are assets in the workplace? What if openness, authenticity, and honest expression can improve productivity, spur growth, and cultivate company morale?
Rather than viewing emotion as a sign of weakness, companies must cultivate environments where employees’ feelings, intuition, and emotions matter. Leaders should empower their teams to raise their voices and contribute to the emotional intelligence of their organization.
Scholars use the term “emotional intelligence” to refer to social awareness, empathy, motivation, and self-regulation skills. These skills can be developed over time, resulting in an increased EQ (the emotional counterpart of your IQ). Individuals with high emotional intelligence IQs (EQs) can express themselves clearly, actively listen, and process a variety of diverse perspectives before making decisions.
“90% of top performers have high EQ.” TalentSmartEQ
Research shows that emotional intelligence plays a significant role in organizational effectiveness. A 2019 survey found that 36% of executives consider emotional intelligence a critical workplace skill. Emotionally intelligent people can move further in their careers—some studies even indicate that emotionally intelligent people are higher performers—because of their ability to empathize, collaborate, and connect with their peers on a deeper level. This is why executives need to create a safe space for their employees to express themselves.
Let’s go over some benefits of embracing emotions in the workplace.
Stronger bonds between leaders and employees
Leaders who embrace emotions can build solid relationships with their employees. To keep their teams motivated and engaged, executives must regularly check in at meetings and provide opportunities for open communication.
If you are on the leadership team, ask your workers how they feel about an upcoming project, their stress levels, and if they need any support. Offer moments for your female and BIPOC employees to bring their feelings to the forefront of the discussion. You can even ask them for ways that you can improve your company’s culture. OfficeTeam, a staffing service company, reports that 95% of HR managers and 99% of workers believe it is important for staff to have high emotional intelligence.
Emphasizing employees’ emotional and mental health will make them feel confident and optimistic. It will also ensure that they stay engaged and productive. For example, 74% of employees report being more effective when they feel heard. Statistics like this reveal that employees who can express themselves are more motivated at work.
Enhance internal communications and encourage bolder ideas
A recent PWQ study found that labeling women as “emotional” in disagreements or tense moments can undermine their credibility. This shows that there is such strong opposition to demonstrating emotion in high-stakes conversations (like the workplace) and that women can be disproportionately affected by this.
We can change this narrative by using emotions to enhance internal communications, encouraging bolder ideas, and celebrating an individual’s passion for their work. We must change the narrative around the value of emotions at work, beginning with internal communications.
For example, respond positively or supportively when an employee expresses a passion for an idea. Or if a disagreement or negative emotion is expressed, create a safe space for that to be addressed. Rather than hiding one’s opinions and feelings during a project, all employees should be encouraged to raise their voices during internal communications. One person’s feelings could encourage positive changes to business operations, improve a project, or encourage better client outcomes.
Emotions are an asset in the workplace
Leaders must embody emotional intelligence to cultivate environments where employees are free to express emotions and see emotions as a positive element in the work experience. The workplace has a new narrative: employees should be given room to express themselves authentically to thrive at work.
Annie Raygoza is the Director of Client Services at Clear Digital, a digital agency that specializes in marketing and advertising for B2B brands. She dedicates her time to building client relationships, and her team at Clear Digital has garnered a 90% client retention rate. As a woman in marketing, advertising, and technology, she understands the importance of representation and of advocating for women in the field. When she’s not at work, she loves to read and spend time with her dog, Fozzie.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.