Being Happy At Work Matters

HBR’s Emotional Intelligence Series features smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life from the pages of Harvard Business Review. This book explores how happiness is measured, frameworks for personal behaviors, management techniques that build happiness in the workplace–and warnings that highlight where the happiness hype has been overblown.

Happiness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series): How to be human at work. Daniel Gilbert. Annie McKee. Gretchen Spreitzer. Teresa M. Amabile. 

Disengaged, unhappy people aren’t any fun to work with and don’t add much value; they impact our organizations (and our economy) in profoundly negative ways. It’s even worse when leaders are disengaged because they infect others with their attitude.Their emotions and mindsets impact others’ moods and performance tremendously. After all, how we feel is linked to what and how we think. In other words,thought influences emotion, and emotion influences thinking.

It’s time to finally blow up the myth that feelings don’t matter at work. Science is on our side: There are clear neurological links between feelings, thoughts, and actions.When we are in the grip of strong negative emotions, it’s like having blinders on.We focus mostly—sometimes only—on the source of the pain. We don’t process information as well, think creatively, or make good decisions. Frustration, anger, and stress cause an important part of us to shut down—the part that’s thinking and engaged.Disengagement is a natural neurological and psychological response to pervasive negative emotions.

But it’s not just negative emotions we need to watch out for. Extremely strong positive emotions can have the same effect. Some studies show that too much happiness can make you less creative and prone to engaging in riskier behaviors (think about how we act like fools when we fall in love). On the work front: I’ve seen groups of people worked up into a frenzy at sales conferences and corporate pep rallies. Little learning or innovation comes out of these meetings. Throw in a lot of alcohol, and you’ve got a whole host of problems.

If we can agree that our emotional states at work matter, what can we do to increase engagement and improve performance?

Over the past few years, my team at the Teleos Leadership Institute and I have studied dozens of organizations and interviewed thousands of people. The early findings about the links between people’s feelings and engagement are fascinating. There are clear similarities in what people say they want and need, no matter where they are from, whom they work for, or what field they’re in. We often assume that there are huge differences across industries and around the world, but the research challenges that assumption.

Find this Book: Happiness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series)

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