The Power of Feelings in Business

Feelings in Business

Ask yourself this question…how much have humans really fundamentally changed in the last 1000 years?

What still really matters when all the trappings of the western world are taken away?

What are the most current problems for people at work?

Who was the best boss you ever had – and why?

More and more science is proving the power of beliefs and feelings. Humans are feeling beings. The most important thing for a healthy, long life turns out to be (not really a surprise) social support. Social support means relationships – with family, friends, colleagues and bosses. It means feeling connected to a tribe or group or family (blood or friends). To belong.

Loneliness is lethal for humans. A sense of belonging is not only important (actually critical) for heart health but also for great performance. Buckminster Fuller said ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’ Which really means when we work together with others we achieve much more. We speak and write about teams and teamwork all the time, but we forget that to be a team means a group of connected people. All the people in the teams want to feel comfortable in the group, accepted vs judged, that they have a place and a purpose that is important, in short – that they matter.

Do people leave jobs – or bosses, colleagues or a culture? Bosses and colleagues are people with feelings! A culture is the environment in which people can be their best – or not. The power of a team is in how well people relate to each other. The first time the New England Patriots (an American football team) won the Super Bowl in 30 years or so was the first time any football team in American history ran onto the field as a team – rather than a series of individual ‘champions'.

Everything in business (and life) is about feelings.

People won’t buy from you unless they trust you (a feeling).
People won’t work well with you if they don’t trust you – or don’t like you. They are too busy protecting themselves.
People who don’t feel good about themselves don’t acknowledge or encourage others – they try to pull others down so they don’t feel so inadequate.
People won’t follow a leader who doesn’t seem to care about them – they might look like they are doing it – but they won’t!
People will avoid working with colleagues who don’t carry their weight – they feel abused, used and under recognised.
People won’t like working with a boss who takes all the credit.
A boss who doesn’t feel good about themselves does not have the patience, compassion and insight to help others be the best they can be.
People will do all they can to undermine in subtle and not so subtle ways if they feel ignored, targeted, uncared for, disliked, unacknowledged or unimportant.
People who are punished for making a mistake when they were not properly prepared for the work not only disengage themselves, the treatment makes everyone feel unsafe.
People won’t take responsibility if they feel they will be attacked or acknowledged for it.
People are not creative or innovative if they are not encouraged or if the culture does not support them.
People do not open up if they don’t feel safe.
And so on!

Everything in business is about feelings. Engagement is all about feelings.

Much of the recent literature or business books are written on happiness; on having a sense of purpose; on feeling safe; of having meaning in your work; on engaging people; on motivating and inspiring others; on finding their why.

Emotional Intelligence is almost ‘old hat’ now yet it’s fundamental for great leaders, relationships and cultures.

Engagement is used as a strong measure of a company’s health or a leaders effectiveness – but what IS engagement? It’s when people feel engaged – when they feel inspired or motivated or enthusiastic at work. They want to contribute and make a difference. They want to belong. They want to know they matter – that someone cares for them and is interested in growth and development.

My ex-husband wrote a book called The People Pill several years ago now and I still think it’s the best leadership book I have read. It’s simple and practical and allows people to easily implement the strategies that work to engage people – that is, make them feel good about not only themselves but also about their work. Ken used to increase profitability by 200-300% wherever he went (true!) by using the principles in the book. And it’s not rocket science. It’s remembering that you are leading or working with humans!

And all humans want to feel good about themselves.

They want a culture in which they feel they can be the best they can be.

They want to feel that their hard work and effort is recognised.

They want to feel the boss cares about them and that their colleagues care about them.

They want to feel safe and that they can trust those around them.

Politics in an organisation destroys trust as do many other elements in workplaces – and in relationships.

Feeling safe, not just from physical harm or bullies – but emotionally safe; believing in themselves (feeling confident); feeling good about themselves; feeling they can rely on and trust their colleagues and leaders; feeling they are not just making widgets but building safe buildings or machinery; feeling there is someone they can talk to if things are not going well; feeling that it’s ok to not know something and ask for help; feeling energised by work; feeling inspired and enthusiastic…I could go on and on about the importance of feelings at work!

Yet we don’t focus on how people feel! We focus on values – and mission statements – which are attempts to get people to feel they have a purpose in what they are doing.

But when do we talk about creating a culture of caring; of encouragement; of growth and development; of acknowledgement; of gratitude? All of which increase engagement of course and therefore the bottom line.

We have lost sight of the fact that no matter how many people in an organisation, they are still people with hearts. And those hearts want to connect; to be inspired or lit up; to be seen; to be challenged and nurtured; to feel safe; to feel part of a tribe.

Perhaps the short path to helping people feel better about themselves and their work is to create a culture of gratitude. Consciously create a culture of gratitude.

Gratitude for each other and for what every person does; gratitude for the work they do and the difference they make; gratitude for a boss who cares and creates a great environment; gratitude for the challenges as they are such wonderful chances to grow; gratitude for change and the opportunities it brings; gratitude for a workplace that encourages diversity and helps everyone feel included; gratitude for a workplace that is fun and encourages laughter; gratitude for your team and the connection and relationships you create – basically gratitude for everything!

Gratitude is the master re-framer. If you consciously choose gratitude (a feeling!) everything changes.

For every person you have a challenge with, find something about them for which to be grateful. Be grateful for kindness at work. Be grateful for difficult situations because they teach you stuff! Be grateful for bosses who challenge you – they teach you to grow and develop. Be grateful for any work you have or the job you have and do it to the very best level you can. Start off every meeting with people talking about things for which they are grateful since you last met – watch how it transforms your meetings.

We have so much to be grateful for every day.

Ask yourself this last question – what really matters to you at work. It’s not the money, the power, the position, the status or kudos. It’s how you feel. About yourself at work and what you do and how you feel about the people around you.

It’s the environment which is created by the boss and the people!

In short – focus on the feelings in business – how you feel about yourself and how others feel around you – and the rest will flow!

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