When Work Emotions Aren't What They Seem

Posted by Bridget Beirne
December 10, 2014

by Arjun “John” Buxi

We're pleased to bring you this Blog Exchange, with Emotional Intelligence and diversity thoughts from today's guest blogger (and friend of Ovation) Arjun "John" Buxi. As a Strategic Communication and Diversity Leader, John brings his knowledge (and great sense of humor) to today's leaders as well as tomorrow's emerging professionals. You can check out his blog, or follow him on the Twitter, @JustaSymbol.

This is an excerpt from a larger article by John discussing what EI is, isn't, and should be. In this passage, he talks not only about understanding EI, but how cultural influences may affect work emotions. You can find the whole article HERE. Thanks, John!

Is there a better way to understand EI?

The assumption seems to be that emotionality is only outward expression, which is either unnecessary or secondary to the work that is done. This does not hold true, as shown in the definition below.

Emotional intelligence refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotion and their relationships, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.”

We are seeing EI as a powerful observation schema, something that helps us pick out triggers and undefined-143995-editedoutcomes, patterns and cultural nuances even, to make decisions for our organization.


What EI can aspire to: Understanding Actual Emotions

Did you know there was such a thing as ‘enacted anger’?

Well, turns out some masculine subcultures such as construction work require the ‘show’ of anger in manners that create compliance and maintain order in work.

Across cultures too, there is a need sometimes to show anger (usually in the Middle East, parts of South Asia and others) to maintain honor and defend from embarrassment. Quite frankly, some readers might see this and identify with their own upbringing around the world!

It’s not just how a single emotion varies from place to place, or context to context, but also how more than one emotion can connect/lead to another and create predictable patterns that can help understand the frustrations of colleagues.

“When someone insults our dignity, or does something we find unacceptable, it is anger that we experience, not hatred. The key to whether anger transmutes into hate lies in agency--our capacity for acting. If fear of retaliation persuades us to hold our tongue, then anger congeals into hate as we stifle our protest to spare ourselves further indignity or limit damage already done. But if, instead of submitting to the indignity, we are able to right or repel it, then anger is discharged before it can harden into hate.”

Knowledge of these interrelationships between emotions, and their cultural variations within specific situations improves our Socio-emotional effectiveness, which isan individual's capacity to navigate the social world in an effective manner, accomplishing his or her goals as needed.”

What amazing Problem Solvers we could be then, and what great managers too!

We must see Intelligence Quotients as containing emotional ability. Find a way to broaden how we see ‘smarts’ both socially and scientifically, so that we they’re not in a zero sum game, but rather one whole interconnected phenomena.

Bottom line: IQ and EI don’t compete, they complete.


types of emotions


 professionalism in the workplace

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