The myth that showing emotion is weakness, can easily be debunked by emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the proof behind why emotions matter. Rather than hiding feelings, emotional intelligence teaches you how to manage emotions effectively and live your truth.

With the world’s current state, people need to bring a sense of humanity back into the workplace. The lines have blurred with the transition to virtual work, and people no longer have any barriers from their work to home life.  It’s time to create a culture of understanding and establish emotional intelligence strategies in the workplace. 

It is essential to understand that people are more powerful than their emotions and the first step is being vulnerable.

Vulnerability is Power

Brene Brown states, vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most extraordinary measure of courage. Vulnerability is a huge part of creating a culture that appreciates emotions and their power. Universally, leaders are stoic and unhindered. Essentially, this creates a workplace culture that is afraid to ask for help, cannot make decisions in fear of being wrong, and puts workplace conflicts under the rug. 

A leader who embraces vulnerability and shares emotion can encourage their employees to support each other, support failures as learning opportunities, and encourage uncomfortable conversations to bring employees together in a more profound way.

Vulnerability as a leader can be difficult. The truth is, influential leaders understand that their vulnerabilities do not define them. Opening up without fear can build trust within the team and make each employee feel equal. 

Leaders get caught up in the ideology that they have to do everything independently; however, a leader who asks for support in their emotional and professional weaknesses will make them more decisive and successful.

How to Manage Emotions

Leaders need to practice what they preach and understand their own emotional triggers before they can teach their team how to manage them. Specific techniques can help leaders better understand their feelings and build a strategy to speak their truth professionally. 

1. Identify Emotional Triggers 

People deal with anxiety by facing it head-on. Leaders should do the same with emotional triggers. When something comes up that triggers an emotional response, live in that moment and identify what made you feel that way and how it makes you feel. It’s essentially like diving into an oncoming wave and embracing the emotion to hear its message.

2. Remind Yourself of the Intentions 

It is crucial for leaders to understand their intentions. Once the emotional triggers are identified, leaders need to prioritize how they will deal with the trigger. Keeping the emotional triggers in mind, leaders need to stay mindful of the potential impact of the conversation. Leaders should play out the scenario in their head for how they would like the conversation to go. Preparing for a difficult conversation is a vital part in ensuring both parties come out of it feeling seen, heard, and not attacked.

3. Have the Uncomfortable Conversation 

In uncomfortable conversations, it is easy to play the blame game. However, emotionally intelligent leaders know that they need to acknowledge how they felt at that moment, rather than pointing fingers. Starting off the conversation with “I feel…” allows no room for the counterparty to dismiss the feelings you are having. Conversely, if people were to start the conversation with “you did..”, they can quickly get defensive and ignore the discussion as a whole. 

How to Cultivate a Culture of Emotional Intelligence 

Once leaders have developed their own EI techniques, they need to bring emotional intelligence into their workplace culture. Creating opportunities to chat about emotions, creating rules for engagement, and just genuinely caring are great ways to allow employees to understand, embrace, and manage their feelings.

The simplest way is to practice enhancing emotional vocabulary in workplace communication. Cultivating a place of learning different emotions can help in better understanding what other individuals are feeling. For instance, to encourage more “emotion talk,” leaders can start meetings off by asking how everyone is feeling or share a tool like an emotions poster. Eventually, people will be able to identify their emotions independently.

Creating a Team Charter or Rules for Engagement are ways to make people accountable for their emotional intelligence. These tools can open the door for the team to collaborate on the organization’s vision, mission, values, and communication expectations. Open, honest conversation about how people want to be treated can make people feel more connected as a team and hold people accountable for managing their emotions and respecting their boundaries. Further, it also provides a strategy for handling emotional disputes professionally and effectively.

Lastly, leaders who can emanate compassion towards their employees help create a culture of emotional well-being. When people feel cared for, they genuinely want to put their best work forward and support a team they know has their back. A leader that builds a culture of care creates a safe environment where emotions are no longer holding them back so that people can flourish in other areas like decision making, problem-solving, and overall productiveness. 

The Impact of Emotions in the Workplace

If it is not already clear, emotions DO matter in the workplace. It is common knowledge that emotions do not leave when we start our work day, so workplaces need to find a way to create a culture where emotions are safe to share. 

When a leader’s emotions hinder people, they cannot perform their job at a high level, creating a chain reaction of other issues and even conflict between other colleagues. If emotions are not acknowledged, they can unhinge and be detrimental to the organization in the face of high turnover, low productivity, lousy communication skills, and poor culture. 

It’s time to break the stigma of emotions relating to weakness and learn to embrace them again. Be vulnerable. Embrace emotion head-on. And be the leader that your people need you to be. 

If you are interested in learning more about why emotions matter, check out our blog – Why Emotional Intelligence is Important in the Workplace. Alternatively, if you think your whole team would benefit from building their Emotional Intelligence skills, check out our Workshops available in live or virtual formats.  

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