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Emotional wellbeing at the day job

People experience a stream of emotions every day at work. It's important to be aware that you are constantly affected by it in some way. It could be the nature of your work, something that happened at home, or something else entirely. The point is to be mindful and observant about the signs.

That said, understanding human behaviour is a field of study best left to the experts. I've only shared a tiny facet of it, related to what I have noticed during my work.

Achievement → satisfaction → reward and recognition → growth.

This cycle of positive change is what most organizations hope their employees achieve. A good performance receives appreciation and opportunity for further development and exposure to bigger and better things. This, in turn, leads to further growth. This is the company slogan; it is reinforced as part of the culture and promoted religiously to new joiners. This is the supposed "secret recipe" to a happy and highly performant team that drives the organization towards success.

However, in practice, there are other more subtle aspects of emotion and motivation that affect a team's performance. Everyday events affect one's state of mind, and the dynamics of how emotion affects performance are complex but not trivial. This aspect of work-life is not openly expressed, and it becomes natural for other people to ignore it. Sometimes even the individual affected by these emotions isn't fully aware of what's happening,

why am I in a bad mood ?

If your work requires focus, attention to detail, or just sheer brainpower - you must appreciate the importance of the state of mind. The mind is one of your most valued assets. Everything that happens to you throughout the day affects you in some way. Like that slight irritation you feel when you need to decide, you need to wait on an important email for confirmation before proceeding. Or that feeling of frustration when you need to push out a critical fix but have to wait on the build job, which is stuck in the CICD queue for hours. Or the feeling of joy and satisfaction and slight bewilderment, after the code that you were working on for the past few days, finally works perfectly on the first try.

The key is to recognize how your emotional health is affected by everyday events.

Life is 90% what happens to you and 10% how you react to it.

  • Charles Swindoll

Everyday Rut

If a significant portion of someone's work is debugging or chasing defects. Or you are simply churning code which in the long run gets dull and mind-numbing. This makes it so much harder for inspiration to strike and kills out-of-the-box thinking. Never underestimate the destructive power of everyday rut. It is a slow-moving disease; you may not notice that you are in a rut for a long time.

  • Are you too comfortable with what you are doing every day? When was the last time you were challenged intellectually?
  • Are you aware of happenings in your industry? Are you stuck under a rock as the world passes you by?

Notice the signs.

A long day

You are working on a high-priority project, and you and your team have been tirelessly working for weeks.

After a long day with a packed calendar, your boss calls you up. You chat about how things are going with the project. You share your troubles and the day ends with casual banter about dinner plans. Sometimes, this kind of short and everyday interaction is an emotional outlet for people to better understand each other and build relations.

It is natural to think that you and the team would be exhausted by the intensity, the workload, and long hours. A good leadership team recognizes this, and can push back on demands from the business, and provides encouragement and support to the team in small ways. And even though the team will be exhausted, they will feel appreciated and happy with the experience.

When there is an atmosphere of positivity in the team, little things that may cause anxiety or distress are naturally filtered out. Negative emotions are like asteroids hurtling towards a planet. With a support circle, acting like the atmosphere, bursts of fear, doubt, anger, frustration, etc., are burnt off before they can do any significant damage.

And it's not just the bosses that have a role to play in creating this atmosphere. Friends or colleagues from work, the immediate people you work with, basically everyone that you interact with can play a part in making this happen.

So what's the point?

If someone is acting not their usual self, reach out, lend an ear, hear them out. Sometimes, talking about it can lead to further discussion and achieve a better grasp of what needs to be done, the obstacles, and so on...

And it's important to note that one can always take small steps to improve the situation; it doesn't always have to be a grand gesture. Little things like pizza night or gaming session, or just a "hello, how are you doing today", add up.

Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

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