On days when you’re feeling sad or just off, how do you show up to work with energy and empathy?

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Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
We have a number of those, right? After all, we all are human and driven by our emotions. So let's take a step back and talk about why you may not have a good mood. Barring the fact that you had some event that prevented you from being well-rested and getting up in the morning or you have some other thing that is on your mind, the essential thing is you have stress and anxiety within your body, which is preventing you from being productive. So when you have stress, your body releases cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. These things act as inhibitors for your secondary functions, and they focus only on your fight or flight. You're geared towards that. You're looking for any unsafe or dangerous situation all around you, and that's how you are operating.

Luckily for us, and we talked a little bit about it before, nature has developed these happy chemicals that help us. Dopamine gives you that burst of accomplishment when you achieve something or accomplish something—here you go, you achieved something, you feel better now. The next one is oxytocin which is that love chemical—Trust and bonding and all that warmth that comes with it. Serotonin is a leadership hormone that enhances your feeling of pride. When someone acknowledges or appreciates something that you did, you feel that surge of pride. And then you have endorphins, which are going to push you. Especially if you're running a marathon, this is that second wind that you get. So those are called happy chemicals: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Your goal is to dose yourself with those happy chemicals as much as possible. And there are easy ways to do it. 

The simplest way is you do a Gemba walk, a practice that comes from lean manufacturing. It is something that I really miss in this COVID time, being remote. A Gemba walk is basically where a leader walks all around the warehouse floor or the platform floor trying to talk to people, getting information and value out of observing and interacting with people. I used to walk all over the building, talk to people. Just a simple thing like a high five in a hallway increases oxytocin, and you start feeling much better. If someone tells you that you're doing a good job, or if you go and tell someone that they're doing a great job, they get that sense of pride: serotonin. You can't do it now but when we're able to go back to the office in some way, shape, or form, just do a Gemba walk. Go around, talk to people, high five with people, you'll feel better. Encourage them, have a smile, walk around and laugh, and share a joke with someone. It will lift you up. Their laughing will increase oxytocin and serotonin within your body because you're proud that you made them happy. The other part of the Gemba walk that helps is physical exercise. So even though you are working from home, go for a walk, go for a swim, take your dog out for a walk, hit the treadmill or your bike. Exercise helps with all of these happy chemicals and changes your mood. 

Perform a random act of kindness. That's such a huge mood booster. When you're waiting for coffee, or you're trying to pick up something for breakfast in a drive-through, just pay for someone behind you. Just do a random act of kindness. That will help you. It gives that dopamine because you accomplished something, and then it gives you serotonin and oxytocin because you know that the other person will be appreciative of it. That will really change your mood, and it will make you feel better.

And then try to control your runaway emotions, or what I call emotional hijacking. Somewhere during the day, let's say that you realize that you're in a bad mood, or you've had a really terrible day. Reflect upon it. Take some time to reflect upon it and think calmly: did you really have a bad day, or did a few bad minutes spoil and hijack your entire day? Which of them is it? I mean, you start thinking about it, you realize that life is not that bad. You are still alive. You're still decently happy. It's not the end of the world. You have a job compared to a lot of other people. You have heat, and you have a home—there are many people who do not, so you're not in a bad place compared to many other people in the world right now. Counting your blessings will actually improve your mood.
5 1 Reply
Chair and Professor, Startup CTO in Education, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

Great article to read.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I’d actually encourage taking a day off when needed. Not seeing enough of that during the pandemic - either with sick time or vacation. Sometimes we all just need a mental health day.
CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
I show up and fake it. People look to me for that leadership. It’s my job to provide it.
Emerging Technologies Informatics Architect in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
Coffee and smiles. Fake smiles to real smiles conversion ratio is 2:x :) so fake the smiles until they're real. If that doesn't work, best to go home early or separate from coworkers and staff as to not spread your negative vibe.
3 1 Reply
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees

Interesting thing about smiles and mood. Even if you force you smile or "fake" it long enough, your brain starts processing the discrepancy between what you are exuding and what you are feeling, and corrects it by starting to believe that you are smiling because you are happy or in a good mood. And then when others see you smile, they warm up and smile too. It is contagious.

Can anyone really be upset, sad, or angry when they see a baby laugh or smile?


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