08 Jun 2021

Emotions: the most important source of information available to us

Are the employees in your organisation ‘emotionally aware’? If they aren’t, then it’s time for a bit of an emotional education. 

Professor Marc Brackett, a leading expert in emotional intelligence, explains:

‘Our emotions are an important source of information about what’s going on inside us’.

From an evolutionary perspective, emotions ensure our survival – feelings of fear and anxiety tell us that there is a threat on the horizon.

Every day the emotional state of your employees will play a part in their ability to perform effectively, make decisions, get along with others and be mentally and physically well enough to do their jobs. These four key aspects of our everyday lives are heavily influenced by our emotions:

1. Ability to focus and learn

When it comes to an employee’s ability to perform at their best, their emotional state is critical.

Our emotional state determines what we care about in the moment: where we direct our attention, what we remember, and ultimately, what we’re able to learn. Whenever we notice that we’re suddenly having difficulty focusing, we should ask ourselves: What emotional information is there, just beneath the surface of our thoughts? And what can we do to regain a handle on our minds?

2. Decision-making

Are we really rational thinkers? Evidence would suggest otherwise. Our emotions exert a huge influence over how our minds function. Truth be told, our emotions largely determine our actions. 

When we’re in the grip of any strong emotion, the choices we make are influenced. If you argue with your kids over breakfast and are still angry while driving to work, you might drive more aggressively than usual and make risky decisions.

With greater emotional awareness, our feelings can serve as another form of information. When we’re faced with a decision, our response will differ depending on whether we feel anxious or enthusiastic. Knowing this, we can take our emotional state into account before choosing a course of action. 

3. Social relations

Consider the people you interact with in the course of your daily life: How do you feel when you encounter each one? Do you smile and look forward to the interaction? Or do you tense up and feel a sense of dread? These emotional reactions influence our behaviour towards each person, and ultimately shape our relationship with them. 

Relationships are the most important aspects of our lives. We all have many relationships – with our children, parents, partners, but also with the plumber, the driver in the next lane, our boss or colleague. All these connections operate on the same basic principle: Our mood at any given moment is expressed in the signals we send out. If we’re feeling joyful and open, it will make us confident and accepting of others. If we’re feeling down on ourselves, it will colour how we relate to others, or if we connect at all. 

4. Physical & mental health

Positive and negative emotions cause different physiological reactions within our bodies and brains, affecting our physical and mental well-being.

Negative emotional states – anxiety, anger, sadness, stress – are closely associated with unhealthy behaviours, such as poor diet, smoking, excessive drinking, physical inactivity, and social isolation. And these lifestyle factors contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, addiction and dementia. 

Feelings of joy, gratitude and enthusiasm prompt the release of beneficial neurochemicals and hormones, enhancing our mental and physical wellbeing. The challenge is to increase the number of positive emotions in the lives of employees. An effective employee engagement strategy should be the first step towards achieving this. 

Improving emotional awareness in the workplace…

Every organisation needs focussed employees, who make good decisions, build solid relationships and are mentally and physically fit to work. By giving employees the tools to recognise, understand and regulate their emotions, they will be well on their way to optimum performance!

Talk to us today about how we can help you to improve your employees’ emotional awareness.