We often think we can get away with denying how we’re feeling. How often do we pretend we’re doing fine when things aren’t running smoothly? But no matter how good your poker face is, other people can detect your emotional state simply by consciously becoming attuned to it. So don’t deny what you’re feeling. If your words and actions aren’t congruent with your emotions, you’ll be perceived as disingenuous, or untrustworthy.
This reminds me of the time that my boss, George, called me into his office and said he had just received an angry complaint from one of our largest customers. He explained the customer’s concerns and asked me to address them. I could detect that he was upset by the customer’s phone call, yet he acted calm and cool, as if he wasn’t fazed at all. I finally said “Well, I’m sorry you had to receive such an upsetting call first thing Monday morning.” He immediately snapped “I’m not upset”, but I knew he was. My trust of him instantly went down a notch. If he couldn’t own up to what he was feeling, what else was he being dishonest about?
It’s great if you can authentically remain calm and cool in the heat of the adversity that inevitably creeps into business environments, but most people can’t. If you can’t, it’s time to realize that you’re not fooling everyone, even if you’re a pro at hiding all emotion from your face and body language. Researchers are learning lots about group emotions, and they’re confirming what many of us have known all along: it’s possible to accurately detect the emotions of others by reading them somatically. This works especially well when the other person is experiencing intense emotions.
Emotions are contagious in a group, automatically passing among people who are in nearby proximity or close communication. Emotions can be transmitted among a group even independent of action and words, and this usually occurs without the awareness of those involved. However, when a person stays mindful of their own emotional state, not allowing it to be affected by others, and at the same time consciously becomes aware of the emotions of others, they can accurately read others’ emotions. Their nervous system literally acts as an antenna tuned to the emotions of others, and they can detect how others are feeling.
This underlines the importance of being authentic, with congruence between how you say you’re doing and how you’re actually feeling. If you’re not congruent, you run the risk of losing the trust of co-workers and clients.
As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of group emotions, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.Share