During the second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, I gave a virtual talk and asked the attendees to share in a chatbox how they were feeling that day. The answers were positively diverse with people sharing: Exhilarated! Energetic! Happy to be here!
These are great feelings, but what are the chances that these answers were an accurate representation of the emotional life of the entire attendee?
From a psychological point of view, it seemed real to me, as if those present were overwhelmed by positivity?! More than two years after the pandemic has revealed the painful side of reality and that many employees are still frustrated with sharing true feelings and difficult experiences at work, creating a culture of emotional repression that hurts employees and even managers alike!
We all hear many stories of pain and sadness at work, especially in the past two years and what happened in some companies, for instance, panic attacks, injured relationships and feelings of devaluation. Didn’t we notice that those employees for example were worried but said they were angry and they were sad but said they were frustrated?
Did they actually and psychologically feel that they were not allowed to admit that they were suffering, whether from the lack of their salary, for example or from losing their job? Doesn’t that mean — if I am say — in their own words: We bear more than we should and we can, because we underestimate the importance of what is actually done to us!
Don’t some realise that when feelings are pushed aside or ignored, they get stronger? Like the yummy cake in the fridge, the more you try to ignore it.. the more it grabs you! Thus, as long as officials at work, for example, respect personal and professional boundaries, they can acknowledge that grief is inevitable, allow employees to express it and even instill the value of responding to each other with compassion, especially since the established values of our society encourage this. As such sharing problems and grief are very good not only for mental health but also for the work environment Itself.
In the end, everyone realises that sadness is an essential part of human life, however, it is usually ignored at work, to the detriment of employees and officials alike. I really hope, with this idea and suggestion, that employees are encouraged to broadcast their hard feelings so that it will not drain employees of their ability to get things done and make offices frustrating — if I could say! This will ultimately show the importance of value to both productivity and employee happiness in a workplace where employees are free to name their emotions, both sad and happy. And while organisations, whatever they are, still have a long way to go on this subject, managers or administrators may one day be able to start meetings with an invitation to share how everyone feels... and in fact expect honest answers!
Dr Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and a writer