The side effects of suppressing emotions in the workplace

by | Jun 8, 2022

Have you ever wondered why you reach for an alcoholic beverage after work or at the end of a ‘long week’?

Well let’s take it back a step, firstly, what are your emotions doing whilst you are at work…

Are you having to force a smile all day long or put on amplified positive emotions?

Are you having to suppress your emotions to keep to the status quo?

Are you pretty much surface level acting your way through the day?

Research from Pennsylvania State University recently did a study of 3000 workers drinking habits of people who routinely work with the public, uncovering that forcing a smile and suppressing your emotions at work is linked with more drinking after work!

“Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State, said the results suggest that employers may want to reconsider “service with a smile” policies.”

“Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively,” Grandey said. “It wasn’t just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I would encourage you to take a moment to reflect throughout the work day and jot down the emotions that you feel are laying beneath the surface unable to be unleashed. This will help to uncover if there are any particular patterns within your working week or times/meetings/tasks that are triggering you.

When we talk about unpleasant emotions, I often see what I call the spiral – one emotion causes you to feel another unpleasant emotion, which causes another and so on. On the flipside though, it works the other way – I call this laddering… when you feel energised you might feel more confident, when you feel more confident, it may lead to feeling more empowered.

When we look at this on an individual level, it can be really powerful in a workplace. And when we look at suppressing emotions on a collective basis, this can impact and influence your culture in a really big way.

Curious as to how emotion is playing out in your workplace? Want to understand what might be helping – or hindering – your team’s effectiveness?

Reach out for a conversation and let’s invite emotion into your workplace. DM me on any of my socials, email [email protected] to organise a ZOOM call or give me a buzz, old school style on 0417 175 526.

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