While many have suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic, others have experienced a more complex condition called emotional ambivalence. That is, experiencing positive and negative emotions about something at the same time. We consider it “broken.” For example, many people feel conflicted when they return to the office. For others, it shows when a colleague asks, “How are you?” And as the uncertainty that defines it shifts to another phase, many employees are experiencing some of the most complex emotions of their lives. But how employees feel inside doesn’t always match what they share with other employees.
People are often hesitant to share conflicting feelings with colleagues for fear of ruining their mood or appearing emotionally vulnerable. Unfortunately, such concerns are not entirely unfounded. In competitive situations, people often value decision-making and assertiveness. Sharing emotional ambivalence can send opposite signals and lead others to take advantage of it. I believe it is a safer and better approach. Happiness conveys confidence and competence, and people like to be around positive, happy people. But new research suggests that being a consistently positive leader may not be the best approach.
You can unleash such problem-solving. I spoke to an executive at a Fortune 500 company who told me how relieved they were to see their CEO openly sharing his conflicting feelings about returning to the office. This transparency around her complex emotions encouraged her to unleash her creativity and develop flexible plans that work for herself, her team, and her company. This manager’s sentiment is not surprising.
Evidence suggests that people are more creative, more receptive to advice, and more adaptable when they experience emotional ambivalence. Fostering a culture of well-being through social pressure not to experience negative emotions can promote rumination and loneliness and reduce well-being in people with negative emotional states. We have tracked the creation and development of several Instagram groups focused on social support for target groups such as working mothers.
Through this ongoing research project, we learn that different groups may have different emotional tones (e.g., positive emotional versus emotionally ambiguous techniques), and groups with emotionally fuzzy tones may. I have found that it can be a powerful source of happiness in the face of difficulty. Specifically, we analyzed posts and responses using text analysis software.
We discovered that positions coded by the software expressing emotional ambivalence were associated with higher positive engagement and insight levels. I’ve found that it’s associated with focusing on the present. We are investigating whether group leaders’ and members’ public expression of these complex emotions models authentic, mindful behavior and successfully enables members to ride the waves of life’s challenges and difficulties.
As organizations evolve ways of working that better meet the needs of society as a whole, leaders must adapt expectations, structures, and reward systems to support their employees’ increasingly complex emotional lives. It is necessary to evolve. Based on synthetic insights from past and ongoing research, her commitment to fostering emotional ambivalence and reaping its benefits as we establish the ‘new normal in the second half of 2021. It offers six key leadership lessons.
Ambivalence is a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs, or feelings towards some object. Stated another way, ambivalence is the experience of having an attitude towards someone or something that contains both positively and negatively valenced components. The term also refers to situations where “mixed feelings” of a more general sort are experienced, or where a person experiences uncertainty or indecisiveness.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambivalence
Nurtures the experience of emotional ambivalence
In the face of future uncertainty, many employees may already cultivate emotional ambivalence as an emotional safeguard to protect their feelings in the face of setbacks and obstacles. There is. Our research shows that emotional ambivalence can also make people more adaptable, as it helps them think about things more flexibly and find alternative ways to approach problems.
Leaders can use a motivational conversation-inspired approach to help employees consider an issue’s positive and negative sides. In one-on-one sessions, you ask guiding questions to elicit mixed emotions and encourage flexible thinking. For example: “France, can he tell me one thing he’s excited about and worried about the launch?”
It shows that mixed feelings are okay.
Leaders may tend to help employees overcome ambivalence and become more positive. Still, helping to name emotional ambivalence demonstrates to employees that feeling and exhibiting mixed emotions is an accepted and worthy response to work and life events and that they need not be ashamed. Listen openly, respectfully, and empathetically. This not only makes employees more aware of their ambivalence but also makes them more tolerant. This can also be quickly done through responsive facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice. This reinforces the value of conflicting reactions and helps avoid toxic positives.
It faithfully models emotional ambivalence.
Academic research shows that emotional similarity can reduce people’s stress response to a perceived threat. This suggests that responding to employees’ emotional ambivalence by sharing their experiences can reduce their stress reactions. Additionally, modeling emotional ambivalence allows employees to see you as human and relatable, preventing them from feeling “alien.” The late Arne M. Sorenson, former Marriott president and CEO, demonstrates the effectiveness of modeling emotional ambivalence when he simultaneously conveys messages of grief and hopes to Marriott employees amid a pandemic.
In addition to speech, leaders can also normalize emotional ambivalence by modeling it in regular meetings. This helps employees feel recognized, recognized, connected, and less alone. If employees themselves do not have conflicting feelings emotionally and are heavily dependent on their leaders for material resources, sharing conflicting feelings can indicate unpredictability and add to the employee’s task.
Use cultural symbolism.
Cultural symbolism about emotional ambivalence can be conveyed through organizational narratives and physical spaces. For example, a Fortune 500 executive described the flexible solutions his group found for returning to the office because he and his CEO felt ripped off. Retelling such stories as turning points in the organizational narrative helps to maintain ambivalence as a cultural value. Leaders can foster ambivalence in physical spaces by using artwork and music that evoke complex emotional responses. For example, you could use pairs of opposite images, displaying positive images next to negative images, or play music that mixed cues for happiness (fast minor) and sadness (slow major).
Structure your interactions for emotional ambivalence.
The steps outlined so far help remove conflicting psychological and cultural barriers, but leaders must also adjust organizational structures to develop unstable environments. For example, to encourage employees to experience and share their emotional ambivalence, leaders can structure work in an interdependent manner, foster more significant collective effort among group members, and promote social engagement. And emotional cues to motivate employees to pay more attention (rather than focus).
Others mainly to themselves). Culturally interdependent countries, where individuals see themselves working together toward a common goal, tend to express greater emotional ambivalence. Organizations can emulate this by fostering a sense of interdependence between leaders and employees.
Additionally, by flattening hierarchies, leaders can reap the benefits and reduce the cost of sharing emotional ambivalence.
Research shows that shared ambivalence in egalitarian work relationships invites others into the problem-solving process, so everyone is better off if the connection is supportive. Therapists who use the Motivational Interviewing approach have been using similar techniques for decades, fostering genuine, non-hierarchical relationships with their clients (“Clients are their experts”). ), inducing an emotional ambivalence that motivates them to change and grow.
Reinforce the value of emotional ambivalence with a fair reward system
The reward system will need to be adjusted to maintain these changes within the organization. Companies often reward traits that counteract emotional ambivalence, such as confidence, optimism, positivity, and certainty. Measures of good leadership in the United States are “strength,” “dominant voice,” and “strong champion,” and leadership prototypes are often associated with expressing a positive attitude.
A reward system like this can backfire in times of pandemics. Designs must be established to ensure that perceptual biases that punish employees for emotional ambivalence (such as lack of self-assertion) are removed from subjective performance appraisals and hiring systems. For example, using tools like BrightHire, hiring teams can document conversations with candidates, return to interviews to review, share with others, and get multiple angles before making decisions. I can do it.
Much more work is needed in this area, but a side benefit is that women are more likely to make complex emotional accounts of their experiences, given that they are socialized to listen to social cues. As such, some barriers may be removed for women leaders. Perspective other than one’s own. A recent survey of C-suite executives found that female C-suite executives were significantly more likely than male C-suite executives to report that they “often have mixed emotions.” Examining perceptual biases favoring traits contrasting with emotional ambivalence found that more women moved up the hierarchy, which could be beneficial in crisis management situations.
Collaborative, interdependent, and relatively egalitarian organizations lay the groundwork for harnessing emotional ambivalence. These environments are seen as invitations to work together to solve problems. It’s engaging, inclusive, and democratic. As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, leaders must recognize that a constant focus on increasing positivity may not be enough to motivate employees. Positive emotions lead to positive thoughts and can make you feel better in the short term.
Still, decades of research show that positive emotions motivate people to maintain a positive emotional state. It has been suggested that it can also be redirected in a way that reduces or alters focus and long-term motivation. Emotional ambivalence can be uncomfortable, but it can prepare organizations to be flexible and adapt to difficult and changing times.