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  • Writer's pictureGladys Agwai


The modern workplace often places a premium on technical and business skills. They are the primary indicators of an employee's value and potential for advancement. This focus is understandable, given the rapid pace of change and the competitive advantage that technical and business expertise can bring to you and organizations. However, this emphasis on the value of a person based on their technical skills leads organizations and its leaders to overlook the critical importance of emotional skills.

This lack of focus leads to an imbalance and inauthenticity that affects workplace culture, employee satisfaction, overall productivity, and lack of personal fulfillment.

Individuals including leaders believe to achieve success, they ‘must’ suppress their feelings even when it is eating them alive! Life is hard resulting in challenging, traumatic, or emotionally significant experiences that people choose not to confront at the time. These feelings, when suppressed, linger beneath the surface demanding to be exposed whether in a healthy or unhealthy way. When ignored, it affects your behavior, decision-making, and overall well-being both personally and professionally.

Below are examples of feelings experienced. Reflect on the examples below, your experience and your response to it. Understand why the response and how you would handle it differently.

• Grief: Loss of a loved one, end of a relationship, or the loss of an opportunity triggers grief manifesting as persistent sadness, detachment, or even physical symptoms.

• Anger: Anger results from experiences of injustice, frustration, or a violation of personal boundaries that lead to bitterness, a short temper, or passive-aggressive behavior in many of life’s areas.

• Fear: Fear related to past trauma, fear of failure, or fear of rejection are common that lead to anxiety, avoidance behavior, and limitations on personal growth or opportunities.

• Shame: Stems from experiences of failure, humiliation, or societal judgment affecting self-esteem and social interactions through self-criticism, social withdrawal, or overcompensation in other areas.

• Guilt: Actions taken or not taken, especially those affecting others, weigh heavily on an individual contributing to self-punishment behaviors or a constant sense of unworthiness.

• Sadness: Persistent sadness from disappointments, life changes, or unmet expectations evolve into chronic melancholy or depression, impacting daily functioning and quality of life.

• Love and Attachment: Feelings of love or deep attachment, particularly when they are unreciprocated or when a relationship ends, can be difficult to process leading to difficulties in forming new relationships.

• Jealousy and Envy: Arise from comparisons with others or perceived injustices fostering resentment and damaged relationships hindering personal contentment.

• Disappointment: Disappointment in yourself, others, or life situations lead to a diminished sense of trust and optimism feeling disillusioned with life.

• Loneliness: The feeling of being alone, even when surrounded by others lead to social isolation, depression, and the seeking of unhealthy ways to fill the void.

You must recognize that everyone has experienced these feelings at some point during their life with the workplace being a potential feeding ground of their experiences. Supressed feelings do not just disappear. They continue to affect you in various ways, often subconsciously. Suppressing your feelings is a common coping mechanism that you use for various reasons. Which coping mechanism resonate with you?

• Social conditioning.

• Fear of being vulnerable.

• Avoid conflict.

• Separation of personal emotions in professional settings.

• Lack of emotional awareness and coping tools.

• Defense from traumatic experiences.

• Perceived lack of genuine support.

• Overwhelmed and in survival mode.

Your emotional skills involve you being aware of your feelings with an ability to regulate them, motivate yourself through them, empathize with yourself and others, and to effectively communicate and socialize with others to navigate and adapt to new challenges. By acknowledging the critical role of emotional skills and actively working to cultivate them alongside technical and business skills in the workplace, individuals within organizations create a more harmonious, productive, and resilient workforce through a culture that leads, manages, improves, enables, and empowers.

Taking ownership of your emotional skills involves a commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement through self-reflection, seeking feedback, professional development, and mindfulness practices. Broaden your understanding through reading, learning, and action. You are ultimately responsible and accountable for how you manage your feelings to ensure no negative impact to yourself or others. Confront your emotions with honesty and courage working through them to lead you to a healthier emotional life and more authentic connections with others. Be in spaces and around people that encourage open dialogues about feelings (yours and theirs) to show your emotional skills to enhance well-being, personal growth, overall team effectiveness, resilience, and success. Foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe to express their feelings.

"Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways."-Sigmund Freud

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