Faking your emotions at work is a bad idea according to scientists

Trying to hide your emotions at work place? Well, sounds like a bad idea as it can backfires big time.
Faking emotions at workplace
Are you faking it up just to look good among your colleagues? Stop before it mess up your mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.
IANS Updated: 19 Jan 2020, 12:49 pm IST
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Faking emotions is always a bad idea and doing it at your workplace is even worse. But why is that so? Well, science has an answer to your query.

The idea that someone can fake a positive attitude to elicit real-life benefits – often backfires when used with co-workers, a new study suggests.

Instead, making an effort to actually feel the emotions you display is more productive, according to the research, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Emotions have no place in the professional world but it’s always a good idea to show your real side

While conducting this study, the research team analysed that two types of emotion regulation people use at work: surface acting and deep acting.

Also, read: 3 alternative therapies for times when work stress gets too much to handle

“Surface acting is faking what you’re displaying to other people. Inside, you may be upset or frustrated, but on the outside, you’re trying your best to be pleasant or positive,” said study researcher Allison Gabriel, Associate Professor at University of Arizona in the US.

Gabriel added:

Deep acting is trying to change how you feel inside. When you’re deep acting, you’re actually trying to align how you feel with how you interact with other people.

The study surveyed working adults in a wide variety of industries including education, manufacturing, engineering, and financial services.

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“What we wanted to know is whether people choose to engage in emotion regulation when interacting with their co-workers, why they choose to regulate their emotions if there is no formal rule requiring them to do so, and what benefits, if any, they get out of this effort,” Gabriel said.

Also, read: Anxious at work? Here’s how you can manage that anxiety

According to the researchers, when it comes to regulating emotions with co-workers, four types of people emerged from the study:

1. Non-actors, or those engaging in negligible levels of surface and deep acting.
2. Low actors, or those displaying slightly higher surface and deep acting.
3. Deep actors, or those who exhibited the highest levels of deep acting and low levels of surface acting.
4. Regulators, or those who displayed high levels of surface and deep acting.

In each study, non-actors made up the smallest group, with the other three groups being similar in size.

Faking versus being real–turns out it all about channelising your emotions in the right direction

The researchers identified several drivers for engaging in emotion regulation and sorted them into two categories: pro-social and impression management.

Prosocial motives include wanting to be a good co-worker and cultivating positive relationships.

dealing with toxic people
Dealing with toxic people can also lead to mental strain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, read: Toxic people at work getting you down? Here’s how you can find bliss amidst the negativity

Impression management motives are more strategic and include gaining access to resources or looking good in front of colleagues and supervisors.

The team found that regulators, in particular, were driven by impression management motives, while deep actors were significantly more likely to be motivated by prosocial concerns.

This means that deep actors are choosing to regulate their emotions with co-workers to foster positive work relationships, as opposed to being motivated by gaining access to more resources.

So, is it good to be double-faced – Here are the key takeaways from the study

The main takeaway is that deep actors – those who are really trying to be positive with their co-workers – do so for pro-social reasons and reap significant benefits from these efforts.

Deep actors also reported significantly higher levels of progress on their work goals and trust in their co-workers than the other three groups.

The data also showed that mixing high levels of surface and deep acting resulted in physical and mental strain.

So, it’s always better to be what you actually are as after giving this study a read faking up doesn’t sound like a good idea. And why to take that strain on your brain.

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