Key Point: What emotional energy do you bring to the workplace? Are you aware of it? Are you a sharpening your observation skills about the energy of the work environment you walk into? Do you notice the energy walking into an Apple Store? Compare it to the atmosphere in a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). How would you compare the on plane atmosphere of one airline to another? What is the energy atmosphere in your work place? Yes the product/service has something to do with it. Let’s face it, selling Apple products these days is flat out more fun than renewing drivers licenses. However my belief is that a realistically positive atmosphere is possible in any work environment; including funeral homes. How do you contribute to the energy field in your workplace?
Emotional contagion sucks. Nothing drains or distracts a workplace more than unbounded negativity. On the other hand, sticking ones head in the sand and avoiding issues through “lolly pop” (pretend everything is perfect) management, is dangerous. Effective energy leadership involves the paradox of positive realism. This balances recognizing issues and problems while building on positive, progressive steps forward. It is like when you’re a kid standing on a teeter-totter in the playground; you have stand in the middle or it crashes down to one side or another.
Here is how I’ve seen negative emotional contagion work. On the behavioral side it involves someone presenting a predominantly sourpuss look. The person rarely smiles or laughs and often says and/or emails negative things. Diminishing other people (especially when the other person(s) is not present) with a subtle smirk or more direct hit is a practiced art. What negatively wired people do (at times unaware of the damage their causing) is make people their confidant in shared grousing. However, they usually have many “confidants” and their agenda is shrouded in their own emotional immaturity. Their negatively has often more to do with their own personal demons than the betterment of the organization. The result often involves a negative haze that takes over a group. Like the proverbial frog sitting in increasingly hot water, negativity becomes “normal” and accepted. Whether in the role as a leader or colleague, we have the responsibility to address unbalanced negativity. The invitation to the individual has to be clear and direct: Demonstrate an immediate commitment to changing positively real time OR get out NOW. Believe or leave!
- Recognize that the emotions others and we bring to work are as important as our job skills. This is heightened when in a formal leadership role. Negative emotions are toxic.
- Invest in self-awareness! Because it’s not possible to check our emotions at the door when we get to work it is vital to be aware of what we’re feeling. You can’t change what you don’t notice! This takes conscious practice.
- Authenticity matters because we can’t fake positivity for long. It is possible to put on a “game face” — to say you’re feeling one way when you’re actually feeling another — but the truth will ultimately reveal itself in your facial, vocal, and postural cues. We must learn to monitor and manage our moods. Sometimes for a number of reasons (personal and professional) it is just time to exit. Don’t screw it up for everyone else because you’re in a negative hole.
- The key to balancing realism and optimism is to embrace the paradox of realistic optimism. Practically, that means having the faith to tell the most hopeful and empowering story possible in any given situation, but also the willingness to confront difficult facts as they arise and deal with them directly. Be on the positive side of that that teeter-totter!
Positive energy in the triangle,