I recently read the new book NO HARD FEELINGS: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy.
The two authors are friends who were inspired to create this book to help people navigate the important and delicate balance of dealing with their feelings in a professional environment - and to impart key skills with humor and fun illustrations (you can follow them on Instagram @LizandMollie).
Why need a manual for discussing feelings at work? They share that "by learning how emotions affect our decisions, we create a fairer and more welcoming workplace...this book will teach you how to take hold of and examine your emotions...by the time you finish this book, you'll understand why you might be feeling something and you'll know what to do with that feeling."
Some of my favorite pieces of advice included:
Motivation is a feeling that can be boosted at work through additional autonomy. If your job doesn't allow you sufficient creativity or flexibility (or you have a micro-managing framework in place) to really drive engagement through autonomy, Liz and Mollie suggest this really great tip which is create a variable reward mechanism for yourself. "Dopamine, which helps control your brain's reward and pleasure centers, lies at the intersection of motivation and action and is released when we seek a reward...if you really want to get crazy about staying motivated, set up a reward system for yourself. [Liz] created a habit of focusing on a single task (no checking reddit or email!) by pressing a random number generator button every time I successfully concentrated for an hour. If the generator (which was set to pop out a number between 0 and 10) gave me a 2,3,4, or 7, I allowed myself to eat a bowl of ice cream (cookie dough!) after lunch that day."
While ice cream may not be the most effective motivator for everyone, the idea of a variable reward mechanism to push yourself through a task and stay motivated is definitely a great one!
Other important factors discussed around motivation include meaningful work, or finding meaning around the work that you do.
Some of the tips and tricks Liz and Mollie suggest include:
- Following Fun - surrounding yourself with positive people and enhancing your work environment as much as possible
- Talking to your manager about more meaningful work, roles and responsibilities
- Connecting your work to a compelling purpose, and finding your part in a bigger mission.
Learning and boredom are also key engagement factors, as are work friends. The book outlines different kinds of work friends - how to find them and then use them to motivate your best self through what type of friend they are. It scratches the surface of how complicated these relationships can get (if someone is a good enough friend for drinks after work, for instance, but not to invite to your private fitness class - which they may then see on social media) but gives some great food for thought. I did like the tip to set up a recurring fun thing like IDEO's Tea Time, where everyone gets together for tea in the afternoon and to reconnect.
However, it's a bit further on in the book when Liz and Mollie dig into emotional effects on Decision Making, Teams and Communication that there's even further food for thought.
With regards to emotions and decision making, a lot of it filters down to giving yourself enough time to process and understand what you're feeling so you aren't making professional decisions without sufficient consideration. In the authors' own words: "When we become aware that our feelings are unrelated to a decision, we're quickly able to discount them. The simplest way to prevent irrelevant emotions from marauding through your life is to let time pass before making a decision. Think of it as screening for unwanted visitors." That means practicing self-awareness, whether it comes to excitement, sadness, gratitude, anger, stress and more.
The concept of psychological safety is one that underlies successful teamwork, collaboration, and more (sidenote: I highly recommend the book DREAM TEAMS by Shane Snow precisely for its great examples and discussion around this topic as well!). Psychological safety allows you to tackle conflict, have open discussions, and generate the best ideas, all while making sure that everyone feels able to be heard.
The Communication and Culture chapters bring up some interesting concepts such as emotional contagion. As per the book, "We catch another's feelings through an automatic process called emotional contagion. Whether you're chatting with a coworker in the elevator or reading an email she sent you from halfway across the world, you'll reflexively internalize her expressed emotion. That's right, feelings can spread digitally, through capitalization, spelling, message length, punctuation, GIFs and emoji...emotions can also go viral. Researchers at Baylor University found that a nasty coworker not only makes you (and your family) grumpy but may have a ripple effect that extends as far as your partner's workplace... check-ins are a simple way to keep a grump from turning everyone into a grouch." (this part is so interesting! It's on page 176 in case you want to skip ahead to learn more).
From microactions, remote workers and emotions, emotional labor, hiring, fighting bias - this book is filled with great nuggets. Whether we like it or not, we're all bringing emotions to work (and play, and coffee, and everywhere else)!