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According to a new study, men are twice as emotional as women at work, but the majority of managers would rather we keep our feelings to ourselves.
New research out of Anglia Ruskin University in London has explored the variety of emotions we experience in the workplace, as 2000 workers and 250 managers shared their greatest stressors in the office and how they express their emotions (if at all).
A product of a collaboration with Totaljobs, the study uncovered some interesting statistics regarding the behaviour of men, women and the millennial age bracket in the workplace. The findings highlighted that many of us are “emotionally triggered” by our nine to fives, which makes sense considering that spending the greatest chunk of your waking moments at work is the norm.
Researchers coined the term “The Big Six” regarding the primary emotions most commonly felt in the workplace; joy, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust and fear. They found that the great driver for these emotions wasn’t work, but rather colleagues.
There is a gender divide when it comes to these emotions. The study found that men are more emotional in the workplace than women, as they are on average more emotionally invested in their projects. However, women are generally more stressed and frustrated whilst on the job and experience greater negative feelings when a deadline is missed, or when they have gone over-budget.
Men are also more likely to take drastic action fuelled by emotion, with men 20 percent more likely to quit a job when the going gets tough compared to women.
It was also noted that men are twice as likely to take criticism personally or get upset if they feel their ideas were being ignored, with 43 percent admitting having shouted at work in order to blow off steam. They are also more likely to take drastic action fuelled by emotion, with men 20 percent more likely to quit a job when the going gets tough compared to women.
Dr Terri Simpkin, a Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and the author of the press release of the study, explained that “Men are more likely to report experiencing emotions associated with power, such as anger and pride. In fact, emotions and power are inextricably linked.” She noted that women, on the other hand, are more likely to report experiencing emotions associated with their lack of power, such as fear, sadness, shame, and guilt.
Millennials in the study were 91 percent more likely than any other group to experience sadness and anger at work. Imposter Syndrome? “It can be challenging for young people to develop an identity that’s congruent with their professional role,” says Dr Simpkin. “They may experience fear of failure, fear of success and fear of not fitting in.” If the rest of the study is anything to go by, however, young people can look forward to the future as their negative work emotions decline dramatically with age according to their findings.
At the moment companies and managers might be doing more harm than good. 51 percent of line managers believe that “Emotions should be suppressed at work” and 30 percent say that expressing emotion at work is a sign of weakness. Not surprisingly, one in three admit to hiding their true emotions at work to avoid confronting negative emotions.
Simpkin says rather than using coping strategies, “we should reach for greater levels of emotional awareness. Being able to flex your approach will benefit everyone’s mental health, well-being and success in the workplace.” Sharing feelings in the workplace can be difficult for both the sharer and the listener, but when it happens, the latter should do exactly that: listen.