Article (November-2018)


Be Incharge of your inner calm

Dr. Anjana Sen

Designation : -   Physician, Consultant for Emotional Intelligence

Organization : -  Author and Life Coach, Delhi


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How do you describe the concept of workplace emotions and how far it affects your professional and career growth? 
AS The concept of 'Workplace Emotions' is an erroneous one. Humans are the same whether at home or at work from the deepest layers that holds our values and wisdom, up to the neurochemicals that mediate emotions and change from minute to minute. The environment of the workplace does differ from that at home and in public places, and that result in altered behavior in different settings. So, we may need to address workplace behavior in this section. Emotional Intelligence is a subject that deals with 'Managing Emotions' and the neural circuitry that needs to be developed to exercise restraint and regulation cannot be selectively developed for particular environments. If we develop skills at the workplace or at home, the skills can be used anywhere to an advantage. Equipped with ability to modulate and generate the appropriate mood and emotion we can reap benefits of earning respect and trust from others as well a confidence in ourselves. An emotionally intelligent person is in charge of self and has access to creative thinking circuits even in difficult situations. These are the vital ingredients of professional growth and excellence.
In reality is it possible to control your emotions all the time when you know you are spending more time at your workplace than your home?
AS Let us use words like 'Regulate', 'Balance', 'Process' and 'Generate' in lieu of the word 'Control' in the context of emotions. Often emotions occur as a reflex reaction to events. The circuits used in reflex action are short loops that lie below the level of consciousness. Awareness about the neurophysiology of emotions allows us to understand the time taken to mop up the chemical spill of the moment, and the cognitive intervention required from the conscious level to prevent escalation. Understanding about the how and why of stress reaction enables us to fine tune in to the sweet spot where demand is experienced as challenge instead of careening into the zone of distress. Hence it really is possible to be in charge of one's inner calm and effectiveness through awareness and practice of being intelligent about emotions.
In today's work world where multi-generational workforce is working together, what approach would be best suited for emotion management, since all these generations have different expectations and varied thought process.
AS In diverse settings of age and expertise, there is a basic requirement of mutual respect. We may be taught to respect others but it is only superficial unless the other is worthy of respect. Awareness about the mechanism of generation of the phenomenon we briefly name as 'Ego' and learning to balance Ego within ourselves is the training required in professional and social circles. Humility does not consist of just arbitrarily lowering Ego. Instead Humility must translate as the dynamic process of keeping Ego boundaries in accordance with one's worthiness and potential. Building secure personalities and qualities that foster resilience is the responsibility of mentors. Individuals can also take responsibility for Self-Development on these lines. If unaddressed, Ego lurks like the elephant in the room and generates conflict, leaks energy and resources, denting productivity and performance. Organizations may ignore Ego at their own risk.
What is the role of HR in creating an environment for maintaining an emotional balance at the workplace?
AS Human Resource professionals need to first acknowledge that they are dealing with organic beings with inherent needs and motivation. Humans need to relate to the team/organization and as members contribute to team dynamics. Getting to know a resource is the first step in managing and developing it. Knowing an individual helps to identify what motivates the person and what may be perceived as reward. This knowledge helps to align individual and organizational goals. Often acknowledgment of contribution is overlooked, making persons feel undervalued and insignificant. HR is the department where people must feel seen and heard. Putting down with insensitive feedback damages self-esteem and individuals with low self-worth stoop below their own values. Organizations that thrive on trust and integrity would do well to pay attention to humans and treat them as humans, creating a workplace that nurtures professional pride and dignity of roles.
How do you see the leadership styles evolve to cater to the emotional needs of the employees? Which leadership style would work best in today's times?
AS Leadership is an inherent requirement of animals that live and thrive in groups. The various styles of Leadership available have evolved with society and civilization, but no style is outdated. A Leader must learn many styles and fluidly move from one to the other that is appropriate to the task and the urgency of situation. A commanding style is still relevant in crisis. Some Leaders who are used to the commanding style and its effectiveness prefer to keep the group in constant crisis. They cause burnout and stress. Though each leader has a preferred style, he still needs to learn to slip into alternate styles according to the requirement. Just as a golfer cannot go to the greens with only one club, every leader needs the whole array of competencies to apply appropriately. In case of managing professionals engaged in creative thinking, such as in Research, Design, Innovation and Composition, use of a pace - setting or controlling style could put a spanner in the works. High value creative geniuses are best left alone, only gently monitored to ensure that goals are not forgotten in the excitement of creativity, keeping all possible resources easily available for them.
While emotion is a very human concept, do you think technology does have a role to play in creating effective emotional management practices at workplace?
AS Technology is designed by humans to service their requirements. We use technology as aid to reduce stress and workload and to increase efficiency. When communication is quick and effective across large distances it is humans who benefit. Technology access and entitlement works as empowerment, and as we know, information is power. Information systems and filters help improve transparency in systems as well as security by incorporating permissions and accountability. HR can use technology to help generate feedback and ratings that are transparent and fair. Forums and platforms for idea sharing and news help members to create presence and visibility in large organizations and allow networking and affiliation across locations. Technology makes it possible to keep become flexible about time and place, and reduces costs by eliminating the need to travel to participate in meetings. Apart from costs this safeguards health and prevents fatigue. Workplace hygiene, care of posture and importance of frequent movement must be emphasized along with healthy diet, air quality, sunlight exposure and vacation. 
Tell us an incident which required you to exercise great control over your emotions while at workplace and your learning from it. 
AS My workplace has usually been a hospital with me as physician. This is a space that is bursting with emotions and mostly distress. Doctors have to learn to shield themselves from the distress of others. This we learn instinctively by numbing empathy. As I grew professionally I realized that this instinctive numbing makes doctors hard - hearted and that plays out in our personal lives too. Ask anyone, even a doctor who is sick, whether he would like the treating doctor to retain empathy or to block this intrinsic ability to feel for others. The universal reply is 'we want healthcare providers with empathy'. When research demonstrated that it is possible to retain empathy in healthcare personnel by providing awareness about the way of protecting oneself from vicarious pain, I felt heartened and began a campaign.
Another powerful learning about emotions in the Emergency Room is 'masking'. When my patient was sinking, I was sinking too, palpitating and feeling the blood leave my face. Yet I had to steel myself and put on a brave face before the anxious relatives waiting outside. They looked to me for having the competence and confidence of saving that life. When things were beyond my expertise I had to call in the specialist but with continued display of confidence, this time in the extended team, standing by as primary point of contact for the relatives.