Charmine Härtel, Leigh Kibby and Michelle Pizer
Human beings are a complex combination of thoughts, emotions, and physiology. To deny this means denying what makes us human. Workplaces who refute this, or fail to incorporate these ideas into their practices, are open to questions about their ethics. In contrast, embracing the full gambit of the human condition can assist organizations and their employees reach new levels of social and task performance or, at the least, reduce dissatisfaction and disharmony (Pizer and Härtel, 2004). The key to the development of ourselves and our organizations, therefore, is to work with thoughts and emotions in a way that liberates without chaos, accepts without judgment, and enables without commanding. These are the elements of what we refer to throughout this chapter as intelligent emotions management.
In this chapter, we explore the pervasiveness of emotions in organizational life. We begin by discussing what emotions are and how they affect us. Then, we explore the range of emotional responses and their communication. Next, we discuss organizational culture and argue that a culture’s power is derived from the emotional needs of individuals. The way in which culture interacts with these emotional levers influences people, we argue, for better or for worse. This discussion establishes that humans’ emotional needs are powerful leverage points, which can be exploited intentionally or unintentionally if not managed intelligently and ethically. While culture shapes the types of interactions likely to occur between individuals, intelligent and ethical management of emotions at the individual level is an important way in which a positive organizational culture can be fostered and maintained. We conclude the chapter in this vein by introducing a model relating language, emotions, and thought and outlining a specific strategy that managers can use to ensure the ethical and intelligent management of emotions, and consequently, organizational and personal health.
Despite the fact that emotion was defined as early as Darwin (1872/1985), its definition is still debated today (Ashkanasy et al., 2000, 2002b; Lord et al.,