I received two more books from The Next Big Idea Club and want to share a couple of my favorite takeaways from No Hard Feelings – the secret power of embracing emotions at work, by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy.

There’s always been a bit of a taboo to talk about feelings at work. It’s odd that we somehow forget that people bring their whole selves to the workplace. Last time I checked, humans tend to have emotions. So when humans come to work, they bring their emotions, along with their other talents.

While we should work to manage emotional outbursts and maintain a professional demeanor, that does not mean we have to check our emotions at the door. When we are unable to productively process our feelings, bad things tend to occur.

Liz and Mollie’s book is full of insight into how to integrate emotions at work. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  1. When we can decode our emotions, we can leverage them to help us make better decisions. 
    • Do you focus on logic or go with your gut? We should pay attention to our feelings when weighing our options and making decisions. Recognizing relevant emotions vs. irrelevant emotions is key. Relevant emotions arise when you imagine what would happen if you picked one option over another. Do you have a positive or negative feeling? For example, if you consider taking a new job that requires relocating. How do you feel about living in that new city? Are you excited or is there a sense of dread when you consider leaving your friends and starting over? The emotion you experience is a signal about what would be the best decision.
    • Relevant emotions typically last longer than irrelevant emotions. If you feel the same way a few days later, that’s a good indication it’s a relevant emotion.
  2. Your feelings are not facts. 
    • Anxiety, frustration, and anger are all real emotions we experience at work. Those are the types of emotions that can often derail productive communication. Being able to talk about our emotions without getting emotional is important. We frequently react to one another based on assumptions and biases without fully understanding the other person’s perspective. The words people say are not always what they mean. How we interpret those words makes a big difference. That interpretation goes beyond the actual words. Body language and tone of voice reflects “how we say it.”
    • Difficult conversations are one of the most nerve-racking issues we face at work. When we avoid those conversations, we rob ourselves of improving the relationship. Prepare for the conversation by:
      • Labeling your feelings –  “I’m frustrated”
      • Understanding what’s causing those feelings – “I’m frustrated because Bob took full credit for the work the two of us did on the proposal.” This is the impact of Bob’s behavior.
      • Feeling calm enough to hear the other person out – Follow this rule of thumb: If you think you have all the facts, (i.e., “Bob took all the credit because he doesn’t believe I add value. He is an ego-maniac”), you’re not ready to have the conversation. Instead, you need to go into the conversation thinking, “what else could be true about why Bob did this?”

This book is full of good strategies for identifying how to effectively sense your emotions at work. It’s a field guide to help you understand what’s going on internally and better translate those feelings into a healthy response.

I’m feeling excited about it…how about you?

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@people-results.com.

Martha Duesterhoft