“I lock away the pain, put aside the fears, show you only smiles, not the hidden tears.” – Unknown
Are we led by our thoughts or by our feelings? Often we hear people look down upon those who express emotion in the workplace. Specifically negative emotions such as fear, hurt and betrayal. Why is that? Is it a result of a culture that has continued to perpetuate over centuries that emotions are weak; that only logic is strength and shall prevail?
When a comment is made about someone being emotional, or referred to as an ‘emotional person’ although it may just be an observation, it is typically not perceived as a compliment. So we spend our careers toughening ourselves up, building up walls, and building what some refer to as a ‘teflon barrier’.
I have to admit, I have coached others in the past to let things go, and take caution in sharing too much of their emotions in the workplace, specifically those perceived as negative. So I have to ask myself; have I become a soldier of stereotypes instead of a champion for change?
After much deliberation between me, myself and I… the realization occurred to me that in our attempt to teach others to manage through their emotions in a healthy way, we instead may be teaching them to hide and shut off their emotions.
What do you think a person will do, if you tell them they shouldn’t let a situation frustrate them? Or that they should not allow a circumstance to make them cry or feel sad? Unless you provide them with the tools to learn healthy release of these emotions, they may just shove them down or push them aside. Or as today’s subculture of the popular Vampire Diaries TV series refers to it; shut off their humanity. And what happens when the cup runneth’ over and the emotion is allowed to creep back up? It will explode with a force so strong, that without the proper tools they will not be equipped to tame the wild emotional beast that has been sequestered in the deep dungeons of their heart.
A little dramatic? Sure. But you do have to admit it resonates.
The reality is; in an attempt to deal with the taboos of feelings in the workplace, some people will turn to unhealthy ways to keep that emotional beast down. Anxiety, depression and unhappiness begins to take shape. Most of the time people will attribute this to stress and the hectic lives they live. Suppressing the beast with alcohol, food, drugs and other not so healthy vices.
Yet…. it doesn’t have to turn into a beast that must be kept out of sight.
I like to think of it as a ‘pitbull’ pup. If raised with care, compassion and training, it will be controlled, loving and obedient. Or it can become unruly and out of control if ignored, mistreated and used in fight.
So next time, we see tears and strong emotions in the workplace, lets show compassion and kindness. Let’s begin a revolution that says that feelings are not bad. After all, we are emotional beings which IS a part of the human experience. We can find healthy ways to manage our emotions and respect them simulatoeulsy.
Ask yourself as you reflect on the following three bullet points; do you have a healthy oversight on your emotions or have you imprisoned them in an effort to contain them?
- Do you reflect and talk it out sincerely? Do you acknowledge that feelings are a natural and healthy response to life situations? Or do you shove powerful emotions out of sight, quick to forget, deflect and deny?
- Do you take the time to release physical tension that builds up through highly emotional situations? Do you take walks, exercise, hike or do yoga regularly? Or do you bury your emotions in unhealthy vices?
- Do you let love in? Pause and appreciate the beauty around you? Hug your loved ones often? Say thanks for all you have instead of dwelling of what you don’t have? Surround yourself with people who are your rocks? Or do you shut yourself off wanting to be alone to simmer in your emotions?
Don’t deny your feelings and emotions.
Acknowledge and find healthy ways to express them in the appropriate way…at the appropriate time.
Most importantly, let’s show the value emotions have in our society today by respecting them and honoring them. By doing that we will help others, including ourselves to build our self-esteem and learn healthy ways to process that which we feel. Isn’t there already enough judgment in the world today? Is life not complicated enough already? The last thing any of us needs is to have the additional pressure of having to come off as if nothing bothers us.
So next time someone hurts you or makes you feel frustrated at work due to their actions, I dare you to tell them. After all, we hear about how important it is to be authentic in the progressive workplace. Be real, be sincere, be respectful ….and be an advocate for change.
Image published courtesy of monsterthinking.com
written by Lauren Schultz, a BDSmktg Millennial
Life is filled with expectations. Speaking from a 20-something year old perspective and as a member of the millennial generation, when I graduated from high school I had certain expectations of how my life would unfold.
The expectation I had coming out of high school was; if I invest another 4 plus years of my time in college, along with investing “x” amount of dollars into my education then I will certainly get the career of my dreams and blast past any other competition.
Easy breezy…life secured, right??
However, the reality was that after getting out of college I realized the only place for a Psychology major such as myself to go was either a) back to school to pursue even higher education, or b) into a field that had nothing to do with my degree. This was a little bit of a shock. Why didn’t anyone tell me this? I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I thought the Psychology degree just gave me lots of options and many directions to choose from. Just as many Psychology graduates probably thought.
Now, of course this is not true for everyone in my generation, but I think for some of us millennials the expectation is that you don’t necessarily have to be sure where you are going, when you get out of college and start working. You think that maybe if you take just one step in the “right” direction, it will automatically lead to another opportunity and sort of like a domino effect, the rest of your life will perfectly fall into place….oh and probably and hopefully without any major hurdles.
In contrast, it has become more and more apparent that the only assured way to move forward in any direction, is to decide for yourself where it is you want to go and then make the best decisions to get you there one deliberate step at a time.
Simple, but it can be a concept that is difficult to grasp when for most of your life you have had your journey mapped out for you by others. Deciding what you want to do on your own can be difficult, and develops out of a lot of failed attempts, taking chances and being lucky, rather than knowing with certainty from the start where you want to end up.
I have realized during these last couple of years that to just coast along on a degree hoping people will take notice will not give me a fast pass to developing my career. And although, my manager can guide me on what steps to take in getting to the next level, the drive that I have deep within me is what will actually get me there overtime. The reality is that time and experience is not something a college degree comes with, it is something that must be gained over time, just as is personal and professional credibility in the workplace.
To quote one of the great rap artists from my generation, “…we started from the bottom, now we’re here...” Most of us will start from the bottom and work our way up to the top, but in doing this , we will build up our corporate acumen, gain a better understanding of every piece of the business, and with that we will strengthen our credibility and become more knowledgeable and influential in our role as we grow within our career.
Lauren Schultz is an Employee Relations/OD Specialist for BDS Marketing Inc. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Psychology. Lauren resides in Orange County, California. Lauren is currently working in Human Resources focusing on employee development, learning and performance initiatives for BDS.
If you Google leadership there will be many definitions and hundreds of pages on how to be a better leader, many step by step instructions, books galore….but does any of it really help us put the leadership dance into practice and truly take a lead? Of course not, because no book or seminar can create a spark from within our souls.
Being a manager or a director does not mean you are a leader. It is only a title, a title with some big and bigger responsibilities. But leadership is a carefully executed dance of behaviors, actions and decisions driven by a passion- for something, anything. Truly authentic leadership is something that comes only from one place. A place from within you, from your heart.
Personally, I don’t believe that leaders are born. I have seen too many people who started out stumbling in their leadership roles and blossomed over time into strong and inspiring leaders. Yes, some people have a natural ability to lead, but all of us are born with leadership potential. What truly gets us to use that potential is only one thing…our heart and our soul. And simply put, the only way to become a strong leader is to work on yourself. Truly commit to being a better you, a better person, and a role model. To work on yourself, you have to be able to reflect on your behaviors, actions, how you treat others and the decisions you make. Hence self-reflection is a core component to the development of your leadership muscles. Becoming that better you to pave the way to leadership means working on the qualities we all look up to; such as integrity, humility, accountability, passion… to name just a few. It means having a vision into the future, and sharing it with others, inspiring them to see it with you and want to follow you to this future. It doesn’t have to be the far away or a big future. It can be the future of tomorrow or even the one of today. Leaders don’t force their people to follow, they emulate that which others want to rally behind, by letting their passion shine through and touching the hearts of others.
I have been a firm believer that no matter your role, specialist or a merchandiser, you hold the power to be a leader. Look around, and reflect on your family, your group of friends and you work community. There is always that one person that seems to take the lead, rally people together and touch a nerve. A leader will make you feel proud, and you will want to do more for that person to make them proud and respect you the same way you respect them.
These are the people in our lives that inspire commitment, not just demand compliance. A manager, for example, any manager, can demand compliance but only a true leader can ignite commitment and create a spark from within.
I have met people who are natural leaders, they are not in management positions, but they are true leaders and some of them have no idea they even have such a quality within themselves. I can only hope one day to be more like some of these folks. None of them are perfect human beings and I don’t expect them to be, but they are real and humble about the fact that they are imperfect and they too stumble along the way like we all do. But those who I am inspired most by, give me something to look up to and want to be more like. They exhibit behaviors that I want to work on and that I myself want to show the world.
My hope for you, is that you will find that spark within you, that something that drives your passion, something you believe in and aspire to. And that you will take that spark and pair it with behaviors you honor and work each day to exhibit those behaviors. Don’t just wish you could be more like someone or do something- be it, do it. Leadership starts with you, within you, and by taking a leadership role in whatever speaks to your heart and by committing yourself to working on being a better you, you start the leadership revolution. If you wait to reach the title of manager or director to concern yourself with the qualities of a leader, you will miss out on the opportunity to work on yourself, manifest the leader from within you and make a difference.
So reflect, think, look back and look forward. And then just be, be that which you want to be and that which you believe in, and be it with a passion radiating from your heart that you let others see…. and the leader within you will shine through.