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Allowing emotions at work may lead to better decisions

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Today, employers spend a lot of time and money training employees to make better decisions.  Generally employees are taught to be more rational and less emotional.

Recent research by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) questions this type of training style and shows how certain moods or emotional states can actually lead to more accurate and effective decisions.

Researchers found evidence that when people were emotionally uncertain, they felt positive and negative simultaneously.  Their emotional state was conflicted, making them more open to considering conflicting information, which can be critical to making good decisions.   For example, think of your dependent child leaving home to attend college.  You are excited about their future; however, you may feel nervous about them leaving home.  That is simultaneously feeling positive and negative.

Subjects were asked to write about a life experience or watch a movie.  Researchers recorded the participants’ accuracy in making predictions and forecasts.  Those who showed mixed emotions in the study were consistently more accurate.

Today’s business leaders can discard the idea that employees should be emotionless.  Resist the urge to try and alter the moods and emotions of employees and teams when you need them to make important decisions.

Allowing employees to take the natural course with their emotions will increase the chance that people will not be solidly positive or negative, but make good, solid decisions.




Debbie Strahle, Partnership Manager