By David Ryback, Ph.D.
The emotion of happiness is such a personal concept and one that is prone to unique interpretations. Whenever I ask individuals what they want out of life, the answer is typically happiness. It is such a global term, meaning everything and nothing at the same time. I then ask what specifically would make them happy. The answers run the gamut, but one theme that stands out is the experience of connection to family, friends, and colleagues at work.
Our focus here is whether or not understanding others and facing those aspects of yourself that are most appropriate to share make for increased happiness or sense of well-being at work. Sharing your best public self means being in touch with your feelings. You can’t be your best self if you’re not in touch with your feelings. What is there to express authentically if not your inner feelings?
Certainly, actions based on personal principles mean being true to yourself, but being your real, authentic self involves feelings as much as actions.
Just as the ability to read faces gives us information about others’ feelings, we must read our own embodied sensations as we echo others’ feelings. Perhaps it’s easier to read others’ faces than to become cognizant of our own subtler, deeper feelings. But some of us are better at it than others.
Whether we’re dealing with direct reports, colleagues, or superiors, what we communicate to them determines how effectively we influence them. The more in touch with our feelings, the research reports, the more authentically we’re seen and the more receptive others are to our suggestions. So whether we’re leading or following, emotional awareness is a plus. Beyond leading to effective communication, it helps us feel better about ourselves and our interactions with others. The end result is a sense of well-being at work as well as more effective partnerships.