Now that we know the results of what has been the most divisive election in our lifetime we must reflect on how the political establishment, the pundits and the media totally misread how people feel and more importantly—why they feel the way they do. Emotions, good and bad, drive behaviors. The people have made their decision in a highly charged emotional environment. While we must respect the will of the people, we must work to protect the checks and balances in place so that history does not repeat itself in normalizing the abnormal, and protecting the hard won rights that may be in jeopardy.
There is no question that most people distrust the political system and establishment. Unfortunately this has exposed the ugliness, bigotry and intolerance that have been simmering below the surface long before the election cycle started. It also appears that many of us have forgotten what we all learned in kindergarten, the ethic of reciprocity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Organizational leaders must understand that the level of distrust extends beyond the political establishment. Rarely a day goes by when we are not exposed to the atrocities committed in every segment of our society: in politics, in government, in business, in religion, in sports, in entertainment and in media. The recent scandals at Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Fox News and Veterans Affairs have highlighted how pervasive this is. Based on research I have done on bullying and psychologically safe, healthy and fair workplaces, employees are afraid and angry.
The election revealed a great divide that will continue to exist. It also revealed how fragile democracy is. Unless the political parties and the government totally reinvent themselves in a positive way the divide will widen and democracy will fail. The first step in this reformation is to come to grips with how people feel and more importantly why people feel the way they do.
To come to grips with this in the workplace the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Faas Foundation are initiating the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace to help organizations create psychologically safe, healthy and fair workplaces. Currently, we are conducting a North American survey to determine how employees feel about the work they do, the relationships they have at work and how they feel about the organizations they work for. Most importantly, we will determine why employees feel the way they do. Our initiative will identify the unnecessary stress factors employees face and provide evidence-based solutions, unleashing the power of emotional intelligence coupled with the ethic of reciprocity.
I encourage everyone to complete the survey and ask you to encourage everyone you know to do so as well.