Staying in the black emotionally

Jane Sparrow of The Culture Builders says emotions and our approach to them are vital in the current times and has advice for individuals and employers.

A happy woman wearing glasses laughing


With mental health a huge issue in lockdown, small, everyday gestures that boost it are an important part of a long-term strategy to promote well being.

A webinar last week sought to highlight how emotions such as anxiety, anger or frustration can be recognised, controlled or influenced to ensure they don’t have too much of a negative impact on people’s overall well being both at home and at work.

The webinar, led by Jane Sparrow of people and culture experts The Culture Builders, is based on research they have done for their new Bank of Me range of modules which  focus on positive, lasting behaviour change and cover managing emotions, keeping focused, looking after our physiological selves, personal growth and staying motivated. To accompany the modules they have also produced a book and a range of podcasts.

The approach is based on an analogy with a bank balance and the idea that how much teams, and individuals, deposit and withdraw from their human bank balances has a direct impact on how well they are able to perform. According to the Culture Builders: “We all need to work on maintaining our human bank balance to its highest level, and, where we manage and lead others, support them to do the same. We need to be in the ‘black’ as teams, individuals and organisations. Not in the ‘red’.”

Feeling valued

In the webinar, Sparrow said that if you are in the red emotional state there are three different approaches you can adopt, which she called the C-I-A method. Firstly, you can try to control the situation, which helps you emotionally; if you cannot control it, you should ask if you can influence it – again this helps you emotionally as it gives you a sense you can do something to deal with it; and if you cannot influence it can you accept that right now this is how it will be and that you need to find the best way of working with it.

Sparrow said that this approach was based on valuing both yourself and others.  She said: “We need to feel valued more than ever now, as humans and as colleagues. That helps us stay in the black.”

And she added: “Do not undervalue small gestures that connect with others – they can have a big impact. You need to think about what you can do today to show that you value your colleagues.”

She mentioned one CEO she knows who has been making five calls a day to say hi to colleagues in the present crisis and to ask how they are feeling. Such gestures are very beneficial, said Sparrow.

Citing a quote by the writer Maya Angelou that 10% of life is what happens to us and 90% is how we react to it, she said it is very important that we intentionally manage our emotions and to start with our own emotions so we can help others.

*The Bank of Me pages have more advice, resources and detailed support on how to support employees in these difficult emotional times.

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