Why We Need Emotional Workers

June 4, 2015 Lynette Silva Heelan

by Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – The fullness of our messy selves is what fuels our creativity, passion and success. Finding ways to encourage and accommodate emotion at work benefits us all.

I’m a sucker for Pixar movies. Sure, the animations and graphics are amazing, but the stories are the real heart of the movies. Layered and nuanced, Pixar movies reflect back to us our humanity through the unlikely mirrors of monsters, insects, toys and robots.

So when I saw Lindsay McCutcheon had put together a video of the most emotional moments from Pixar movies, I was in.

Brilliantly done, the video first shows all the “negative,” sad emotional moments, then the positive, from a wide cast of Pixar characters over the years. The beauty of this video lies in showing us the human condition – the ebb and flow of what it means to be human.

  • Out of disappointment comes determination. Out of failure, imagination to find a new way.
  • Sadness over the loss of one dream can lead to wonder over the beginning of another.
  • In the midst of feeling alone, we often find those who are our truest family.

I think we can all attest to experiencing these emotions in our lives. Yet our workplaces all too often ask us to bury these emotions (even the good) for a stasis of “pleasant,” for the uncontroversial of “mild mannered.” What are these messages? Usually some form of:

  • Leave the sadness over the loss of a family member at home. When you walk through these doors, you’re here to work. Don’t bring the rest of us down.
  • You’re too happy! You can’t be that joyful all the time. It’s just fake. Who is the real you, anyway?
  • Hide your failures. Admit to nothing. Keep your head down and just keep ploughing forward. If you’re lucky, you won’t be noticed.

Sure these messages are on the extreme edges, but I doubt they’re unfamiliar to most readers. Yet, it’s when we bring our whole selves to work – the entirety of our crazy, mixed up, maddening, creative, insightful, caring humanity – that we can accomplish our best work, together.

We must learn to WorkHuman. It’s not an option any longer. Doing so not only makes the work experience that much better for the individuals involved, but it also drives far better business results. What emotions are permitted in your workplace? Which are disallowed?


About the Author

Lynette Silva Heelan

Lynette Silva is a principal consultant on Workhuman’s Strategy & Consulting team, partnering with clients on change strategies to make work more human.

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