A healthy work culture is made up of people who are doing healthy things. They are eating right, exercising consistently, seeing their doctor, taking their vitamins, attending smoking cessation classes, counting their steps, etc. All those things are important to wellness at work so we can lower our health care costs and benefit from increased productivity. However, wellness is deeper than that. Our wellness is connected to our emotional state. Here’s how:
- We all have emotions.
- Our emotions impact our personal effectiveness and sense of wellbeing … whether we realize it or not.
- At best, we leverage our emotions to choose behaviors and relationships that foster our personal and collective wellbeing.
- At worst, we ignore or dismiss our emotions and they build up in unhealthy ways, causing us to choose behaviors that erode relationships and derail our wellness efforts.
Consciously using emotional information to guide our thinking and behaviors is emotional intelligence. These three strategies will help you unlock the wellness potential in your organization.
1) Remember: E + M = A
That is, our emotions govern our mindsets and our mindsets govern our actions. Until we understand the link between our emotions and our actions, we will not reach our wellness potential.
To improve your emotional self-awareness, commit for one week to keep a daily journal of your emotions. This will help you observe your emotions and identify patterns. When we are aware of how things make us feel, we can start to identify how those feelings impact our mindsets and actions. The example below is how you might briefly capture your feelings throughout the day.
Today I felt _____________, when _______________.
Anyone who has ever tried to change a bad habit or build a good habit knows how incredibly difficult this is to do. Mindset is a game changer. We must acknowledge ingrained thought patterns and beliefs that may not be serving us well and build better ones if we want to successfully change our behavior.
2) Practice emotional transparency
When people appropriately express emotion at work, they create psychological safety. They create space for other people to be authentic, empathetic and even imperfect. Sometimes we’re scared and uncertain. Sometimes we’re stressed out and frustrated. Whatever the feelings, we are (often) well served to share them. The reality is that our emotions seep out in our tone and nonverbals whether we name and share them or not. The following fill-in-the-blank model for communication will help you clearly express your emotions and needs to other people.
I feel ______________. I need ____________________. + <Question?>
Counterintuitively, emotional transparency like this doesn’t make you weak; it makes you more approachable and it leads to increased cooperation and commitment from other people. It also frees up energy that you would have been expending to keep your true emotions under wraps. When you learn how to free up this kind of energy from within, you’ll have more to put toward wellness activities. People who consistently waste energy pretending to have it all together are far more depleted at the end of the workday.
Here are three examples of how this might be put into practice:
- Upon learning my team hasn’t been consistently using Salesforce to manage their sales pipelines per stated performance expectations, I might say, “I feel frustrated when I log into Salesforce and see that no updates have been made to key accounts. I need your help raising our game. How might we improve our Salesforce utilization going forward?”
- Upon learning my kids have not picked up the house after school as I asked, I might say, “I feel stressed out when I come home from work to a messy house. I need more order. Can you each help me get the house put back together?”
- Upon learning from upper management about an unexpected software change, I might say during an all-employee meeting, “Like many of you, I feel uncertain and anxious about the new software. However, I need everyone’s patience and open-mindedness as we go through the training to move our customers over to the new platform as smoothly as possible.”
3) Practice reality testing
Reality testing is an emotional intelligence competency that involves actively debating the “story in your head.” That is, when you feel yourself being swept along by a wave of insecurity or strong emotion of any kind, stop and ask yourself a few fact-finding questions. For instance, upon realizing no one consulted your opinion about a recent change, notice the story in your head. It might sound like this: No one values my opinion around here. I’m losing my edge. Tim’s going to get the promotion instead of me.
Then, debate the truth in that story with questions like these: Has there been a pattern of people leaving me out or is this an isolated incident? Do team members still rely on my expertise? Is it possible that folks were super busy, and that this slight was unintentional?
This internal dialogue will ensure that whatever you do or say next is reasonable and rational. Whether you decide the team really is leaving you out or you determine you’re being overly sensitive, reality testing helps you respond vs. react. This capability is highly tied to wellness, because when we consciously choose our behaviors, we feel strong and capable, in control. When we react emotionally, we often feel out of control, like a victim. Our capacity for wellness and healthy living is directly tied to our ability to consciously choose our actions. Reality testing is a pause button that keeps us in the driver’s seat of our lives.
Wellness starts within
People who understand that wellness starts from within are more effective sustaining healthy lifestyle choices over the long term. At ADVISA, we work with leaders across all industries – accountants, tomato farmers, diamond tool manufacturers, tech entrepreneurs, physicians, scientists, teachers, convenience store owners, lumberjacks, water bottlers and more. We exist to help them influence others to achieve results through trust and shared purpose. In doing this work for decades, we’ve seen that emotional intelligence plays a significant role in individual wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of an organization.
If you are curious about your level of emotional intelligence and intrigued by the EQ and wellness connection, check out our Emotional Intelligence Leadership Series. We’ll teach you how to leverage emotional information so you can effectively choose who and how to be in the world. Click this link to register and get started on your development journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence, read this blog post on leveraging the power of emotional intelligence to turn up the volume on engagement.