Case 1: Linking Emotions to Actions in the Workplace

Let's look at an example of how emotions show up in the workplace and follow the sequence of work emotions, thoughts and behaviours.


Notice how Barbara's feelings change through this situation, and the actions they evoke? Can you see the link between emotion, engagement and performance?

Initially, while Barbara was anxious about her ability to do the job, she was also flattered and felt valued by having been chosen - which drove her to complete the task well. After pushing herself hard, and then not being recognized, but rather criticized for a trivial error; her disengagement started with anger, then disenchantment, to avoidant behaviour, sadness, and eventually action towards seeking a new job.

It is clear that emotions and feelings played a key role in Barbara's business performance. This is not an uncommon scenario. Feelings are often left out because managers do not know how to include them in their own experience or be curious about what's happening in others. It is not that feelings are the only part of an experience to include. We highlight it because it is what is so often ignored, yet is so critical to outstanding performance.

There are many ways in which this story could have gone differently. If from the beginning Barbara's anxiety was understood, she could have been given some support as she completed the project. Having understood the stretch it was for her, her boss would have been more attuned to the need to recognize her effort. If Barbara's boss had been clear about why he chose Barbara, and curious as to how it was impacting her, she would likely be more willing to risk being honest about her experience as well. Through their mutual clarity the situation could have been a connecting experience rather than a disengaging one.

Innervate teaches interpersonal clarity though our Clear Leadership course.

learn more - case 2: the impact of unaddressed feelings

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.

- James Thurber

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