Article (November-2018)


Reinvent the art of conversations at workplace

Dr. Sapna Sharma

Designation : -   International Counselor

Organization : -  Life Coach, Author & Motivator, Pune


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How do you describe the concept of workplace emotions and how far it affects your professional and career growth?
SS The work place enviornment is not always in harmony with all those working there. Plus there are innumerable permutations and combinations of personality traits. This makes it challenging for most to tune in their emotional state with that of the work place. If one is not able to compartmentalize personal and professional life, it can get really difficult not just to perform but also to survive in the work place.
When people bring their unresolved emotions to the work place even one innocent happening can change the workplace into a battle ground that can sometimes lead to long term harm to the organization, if went unchecked.
On the other hand positive emotions like love, care and admiration can cross the line to creating personal involvements in the work place which are equally harmful to the work environment and the organization as a whole.
Having said so, a work place with emotionally sterile employees can sap off the motivation and positivity from the work place. It is all about the fine balance.
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?
SS It is always possible provided one is ready to accept and work on their individual challenges. However, it is not about controlling. 'Controlling' implies to something which is present and raging inside but needs to be 'leashed'. Now that can be difficult and carries the inherent threat of losing your grip every now and then. When one has to spend almost a third of their adult life in the work place, controlling is not a reliable strategy to rely on. If your emotions tend to overpower you, it merits deeper self work. One may even need to ask for help from experts in the field. A thorough self analysis is the first step. Emotions are not stray happenings. They are hinged to a lot of happenings and incidents in our past. Our perceptions of the happenings around us have given meaning to everything around that then evoke a complementing response in the form of various emotions every time we face a matching scenario or person. We need to work to understand our pattern and the place where are hinged to in our past. And it is no as difficult as it sounds once we decide to get down to it. 
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.
SS Human interactions have always been the breakthrough points in tough times since time immemorial. Technological and material advancements have put some fundamental methods under cover. We need to re invent the art of conversations. In earlier times there would be many generations staying under the same roof for years and they had their share of conflics but genuine communication restored the balance. People should be encouraged to talk to each other and know more about the differences. One genuine attempt to know the other is often enough to develop empathetic approach towards the individuality of the other. Tolerance increases when we know people and we understand that difference does not mean threat. Finally the basic human needs are the same across the generations - love, respect, acceptance and appreciation. Nothing that a good communication cannot foster.
What is the role of HR in creating an environment for maintaining an emotional balance at the workplace?
SS I believe HR can play the pivotal role of bringing people together in non threatening, non competitive environment preferably avoiding any technological interference every now and then. Instead of conducting the traditional non - conclusive team building and leadership training programs new methods should be developed to make people sit across each other and make eye contacts while genuinely getting to know each other. Groups should be made that break the barriers of age and gender. Each individual must be encouraged to share their peculiar challenges in the work environment even if some may not be very comfortable sharing personal details. The qualities or USP's of each individual can be identified and declared to the group or better still to the organization and they be encouraged to seek help from the relevant person. 
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?
SS I would not like to comment on which leadership style can cater best to emotional needs. We are into the most competitive and stressful times of all and today what matters most to every person is whether they are valued, respected, accepted and appreciated. All of their emotions hover around these basic needs. We can merge each leadership style to get the best with this quarter at the final aim. People are different so no one strategy or rule can be applied to them, hence no one leadership style can guarentee our aim. I believe each leader needs to remember most of all that what drives a human being and then taking into consideration the personality type of the individuals use one of the traditional leadersip style but keeping the aim in sight of creating a base level emotionally safe environment in and around 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?
SS Technology can play any role that we give it. Remember we are the ones who created it in the first place? But the intentions of the creators need to be looked into. We have all witnessed the effect of the blue whale phenomenon that can create such emotional upheavel so as to lead a person to his end. The fact that people find it easier to interact with technology and be put to good use. So the ways can be :
  • Providing online counseling oportunities to employees (With an external non - threatening counselor) so that they can awail it in their office hours as needed.
  • Creating some mood meters in work place (Some places already have this) so that once an employee has punched in his emotional status for that day others can be more sensitive and careful around them.
  • HR personnel should be encouraged to take training in practical counselling skills (not psychology) so that they can identify people in different emotional status, know how to deal with each one and identily imminet threats.
Tell us an incident which required you to exercise great control over your emotions while at workplace and your learning from it.
SS Being a counselor I am often in the middle of charged emotions. Sometimes it gets too close to my personal issues.
My experiences have been that when the issues of a client are too close to some of mine and they represent it with heightened emotions, if I am not fully aware, it is very easy for me to get swept off and look at the clients issues with personal interest. These are close calls because in those moments the possibility of me becoming prejudiced and judgmental is the highest. In one small moment of  lack of awareness I can possibly either add fuel to the fire, direct the case towards blaming someone or worse still break down in the presence of the clients. 
A couple of times I have come too close to crossing the line but years of practice and awareness have been to my aid just in the nickof the moment.