Emotions Color How We Think, Feel And Behave At Work

EVER since Daniel Goleman equated marshmallows an emotional intelligence in the public mind with his book, “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, a slew of books on the topic have written by psychologists turned writers turned psychologists.

One of these post-Goleman authors in Hendrie Weisinger who has come out with the latest book on this hot topic, “Emotional Intelligence at Work.”

While Goleman is primarily a journalist with an extensive knowledge of the behavioral sciences, Weisinger is foremost a psychologist with a wide practice in clinical, counseling, and organizational psychology who is trying his hand at book writing.

While Goleman wrote about the value of emotional intelligence in all areas of our lives, Weisinger writes about the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace,

Goleman succeeded in writing a highly credible book that gripped the reader’s attention from page to page.

Does Weisinger succeed in writing a highly interesting book that reflects his credibility as a practicing psychologist? His book is certainly credible. However, it may be better appreciated by those who have been sufficiently intrigued with the concept of emotional intelligence to want to learn more. Although Weisinger’s book lacks the sensational true-to-life stories that characterized Goleman’s book and glued readers to his pages, it makes up for this deficiency (if it may be called such) with ordinary but real at work situations that face ordinary and real people (like us) in the work place.

While the book is written with a rather clinical air rather than with a journalistic flourish that is vintage Goleman, it does give a sense of assurance that the book recognizes our real problems and can actually help us solve them.

In the workplace

Going back to the basics, what is emotional intelligence and why is this impotant at work? The answer, as provided by Weisinger, has to do with emotions and its role in the workplace.

In the corporate world, people are expected to be professional. Oftentimes, being professional means we have to be objective, detailed and unemotional. However, it is a fact of work life that emotions color how we think, feel and behave at work.

If emotions in an organization are positive, you have a high energy organization; if negative, you have an intrigue-laden or conflict-ridden organization. Weisinger states that emotions play an important role in the workplace. He writes: “From anger to elation, frustration to contentment, you confront emotions your and others’ on a daily basis at the office.” Given this, how can we deal with emotions in the workplace? Weisinger advises us “to use your emotions intelligently, which is just what we mean by emotional intelligence: you intentionally make your emotions work for you by using them to guide your behavior and thinking in ways that enhance your results.”

Weisinger further says that “the good news is that emotional intelligence can be nurtured developed and augmented; it isn’t a trait that you have or don’t have.”

The better news is that Weisinger shows us how: In this book, he illustrates how we can increase out emotional intelligence by learning and using skills such as high self-awareness, managing our emotions and self-motivation.

High self-awareness

Weisinger shows how a high self-awareness is useful in workplace. He points out that when you get angry at your boss, a heightened self-awareness will enable you to be aware of what triggered it and to know how to diminish and use it appropriately. When you feel dejected, it will enable you to seek how you allow a negative event to affect your work negatively.

Weisinger advises that in order to increase self awareness, you should examine how you make judgments, tune in to your senses, get in touch with your feelings, know your intentions and pay attention to your actions.

Weisinger also shows how we can protect ourselves from “automatic thoughts” (jumping to conclusions) that we can better manage our emotions in the workplace.

Self-motivation, on the other hand, according to Weisinger is “the key to starting a task and staying with it.” While traditional management theory emphasizes the role of the leader in motivating his people, Weisinger says that the individual himself is “the most powerful source of motivation” (the other sources being supportive friends and colleagues, a mentor, and the environment). This is why positive thinking and self affirmation are vital to one’s motivation.

Weisinger writes: “Positive thoughts are a tonic to your motivation; negative thoughts are a toxin.”

Personal relations

Weisinger dwells at length on how we can use emotional intelligence in our relations with other people. Weisinger says “the key to making these relationships and interactions successful so that they benefit all concerned not the least, you is emotional intelligence.”

Weisinger teaches us how to use emotional intelligence in relating with others by developing effective communication skills and interpersonal expertise and by helping others help themselves. The last skill, he notes, is one of the most difficult but rewarding practices of emotional intelligence.

Organization

Goleman exhorted us to “manage with heart, in the workplace Weisinger enjoins us, to build an emotionally intelligent organization.” He believes that such an organization is one in which the employees have a high level of emotional intelligence.

He describes an emotionally intelligent organization as workplace where all employees are able to increase their self awareness, manage their emotions, motivate themselves, communicate effectively, relate well with others, and help each other. In essence, they are able to use their emotional intelligence.

In this uncertain world, an emotional intelligent work force may just provide an organization the foundation for its survival and growth On the other hand, we can easily imagine the damage that misused emotions can cause in the workplace. We all know what anguish results from uncontrolled anger at work; what sorrow ensures from intrigues among employees; and what grief comes from bias and prejudice. The strength of the organization to succeed, along with its members, is thus diminished.

It starts with you

Weisinger pushes the responsibility of creating the emotional intelligent organization back to us. In his closing page, he writes “emotional intelligencet in your organization starts with you.”

With this book and the will, we can change. So next time you feel an urge to throw a book at your boss, your colleague or your subordinate, pick up and read Weisinger’s book instead. It may save you a lot of heartaches and your job and organization as well.

Emotional Intelligence At Work
By Hendrie Weisinger, Jossey Bass Publisher,
San Francisco, USA 1998, 219 pages

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer February 9, 1998.

Photo credit: www.sxc.hu

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