Article (November-2018)


Handle workplace storms by being optimistic

Ramesh Sood

Designation : -   Soft Skills Trainer, Master Practitioner NLP

Organization : -  


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How do you describe the concept of workplace emotions and how far it affects your professional and career growth?
RS Workplace is an arena where positive as well as negative emotions keep on arising making hearts and minds dance to some melodious or discordant tunes all the time. You will find every emotion getting displayed be it happiness, joy, confidence, courage, comfort, discomfort, fear, envy, jealous, anger, spite, stress and/or guilt. Since we are inherently wired to protect ourselves, our behavior gets triggered more by the negative emotions of 'survival'. The real concern is that they get triggered in the most undesirable moments, thus affecting our careers and growth as professionals.
It is amazing to find that the melodious tunes suddenly get turned into some discordant disturbing drumbeats. Haven't we heard the stories of someone getting rewarded and recognized in a corporate only to find him/her suddenly losing favour soon after?
Destructive emotions are very real and to say that one doesn't ever get affected or one is immune to them would be nothing less than being dishonest in one's expression. "He is too nice or polite or kind to be on a seat of power" has been one of the refrains which perhaps gave birth to the phrase - Nice People Finish Last. The most successful people know that they strived to balance it out all the way by being 'warm' to motivate and 'cold' to reprimand.
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?
RS It's not about where you spend more time. On occasions the mood with which you leave your home for the office sets the tone for the day. If you have carried a positive and happy mood, that's how you may like to spend your day and it is true otherwise also. I remember people whispering in offices, "Today the weather inside is not good. It's cloudy from the moment s/he got down from the car. Beware; there is a likelihood of a storm!"And then storms do hit with a snowball effect.
If I have to go by my own understanding based on my experience, you can't stop an emotion from rising. If it finds a trigger, it will rise. You can however, control its manifestation. If you are angry or upset over something, then there are methods and techniques to check how long you would like to remain in that state. It is possible to practice coming back to a positive state quickly if one loses it in some challenging moments. Each one of us has such resources within us.
Optimism is a positive emotion which may help in handling storms i.e. adverse situations by saying that simple phrase, "This too will pass.." Of course, it passes and then one looks at a clearer sky that happily offers comfort and peace.
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.
RS It is necessary to work on self - awareness. That's the approach I will like to take. And that will happen if one finds time for self - reflection. Unless I know myself, I can't claim to know others. One needs to be courageous enough to look at one's own limiting beliefs, unproductive habits & representational systems to improve. Doesn't matter which generation it is, humans like to be liked. As NLP confirms 'sameness attracts'. Yes, many a time people from older generation tend to stay stuck in past experiences a lot because that is where they feel safe. Yes, people of my generation, tend to act out our stories in real life so that we can project our beliefs strongly. It is necessary for the older generation to accept the change and the reality. Youngster's penchant for technology and essential support from experience can do wonders in the corporate. My concern is this : You need experience to sustain. Speed and passion can help an organization grow, however, once it is there, experience is what will hold it together. Self - awareness would help in manifestation of enhanced degree of mutual respect for each generation and what it brings to the table to achieve desired outcome. 
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?
RS Over decades, subtle hints have been thrown by bosses/leaders for their subordinates/team members which have changed like :
My emotions are more important than yours. I don't care what you think. You will go by my ideas and you will serve me; to =>My emotions are more important than yours. However, since we need each other on occasions I would give importance to your emotions too. Yet, don't cross the line; to =>We are mutually responsible for achieving results and both of us know it. Let us keep supporting each other. 
However, the major shift due to advent of IT, AI and accelerated digital flows, the situation has taken a U-turn. Now the talented subordinate/team member throws hints like: As long as you are keeping me happy and reward me in line with my performance, I shall continue to give my best. A hint of politics, boss and I am out. 
Today leadership needs to be like the following well - known quote which is attributed to Ledru-Rollin who appears to have said it sometime around 1870s - 
"There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader."
Of course, of course, and that would be only after one has guided, coached, empowered and given wings. Humility & creativity & mutual respect would be the guiding factors. 
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?
RS Let me share one thought and then if feasible it can be a trigger for many more ideas.  YouTube can be used to share moments of gratitude someone wants to express for the exemplary behavior demonstrated by a colleague, a peer or a superior in helping him/her to achieve the desired result or a goal or to simply motivate. Given an opportunity many will have such stories or anecdotes to share. I will leave it to the judgment of the discerning readers to understand the kind of emotions which may get generated. It will definitely help in strengthening the bonds and enhance the degree of camaraderie displayed by the people within the organization. 
Being in the creative field of HR transformation work, I remember having insisted on keeping access to all the relevant sites as I loved to read, write and share. I was permitted to do that. It kept me motivated & helped me as it met my very strong need to learn constantly. Absence of such a resource could led to frustration and anger. If one is able to identify those strong creative needs of people and then offer them the ways & means through technology, it can help everyone.
Tell us an incident which required you to exercise great control over your emotions while at Workplace and your learning from it.
RS Oh yes, let me share something very different and unique. Chairman of the company where I worked and some of his VIP guests from abroad along with our MD were having a tour of our plant on one of the hottest days of the season. It was decided that during this visit, they will stop at a designated place where they will be served with cold water/soft drinks etc. We had made all the arrangements by placing an attendant. The guests were to arrive about 1200 hrs. Twenty minutes to go and the attendant sought permission to go to wash room. He promised to return in time. Since there was some time left, I agreed and let him go. And lo, behold, the moment he left, the caravan of cars arrived and VIPs alighted.
Who would offer them the water? I spontaneously decided to serve on my own and carried the tray offering water to the august presence. As I reached our MD, he picked up his glass with his right hand & put his left hand under the tray to squeeze my right one and released while lightly patting it. Even in moments like those he had found a way to appreciate.
I had to exercise tremendous self - control. I wanted to exclaim with joy and give a huge hug. I learned that true leaders always found ways to commend.