How emotional detachment can help your workplace attitude?

I took a long break from writing. Let me clarify, it was not intentional.

First it was due to me taking a break from work (intentional but definitely not one of my best decisions), then it was me having a nervous breakdown as a result of a rare and strange sounding auto-immune disease named GB Syndrome. After a series of breaking (yes, there was a day when I even broke my bones, duh!  obviously I had a fracture), recuperating and soul searching, here I am back with more health, more happiness and much more life in me than ever before to do what I love most doing, writing.

Before my health scare episode all I knew was that people get strange diseases and they suffer. It was always somebody else’s story, never mine. I did not realize that it could be anybody’s story including me. Now that I have deduced that it can be anybody’s story let me begin my point on emotional detachment.

We all have our sad, happy and meh stories. What do we do with it? Do we relive it over and over? Do we wallow in self-pity? Do we just think of it as just another stepping stone for our progress?

All through the year my story had different versions. Same story coloured with different feelings and emotions.

Version 1: Self pity

Version 2: Fear and Insecurity

Version 3: Relief and Happiness (of overcoming the disease)

Version 4: Pride (silly notion that I survived it all by myself, which is very far from the truth)

Version 5: Knowing and Peace

Version 6: Detached from all feelings

Did you notice how many versions I had before I could finally detach all feelings from the story and say it as a third person’s story? Its only when you remove all emotional attachment towards your story that you can see the real moral of the story.

You learn lessons from your experiences when you detach yourself emotionally from it. This is the only way that has worked for me. My cure was almost instantaneous the moment I did that!

Now, how do you think this emotional detachment helps in our professional lives?

Emotional detachment doesn’t mean you don’t work with passion and dedication. It just means you don’t invest your feelings in the results/outcome. (Sounds very similar to the line from Bhagavad Gita right? 🙂 I thought so too)

Let me give you an example.

You have worked hard on your presentation. You feel like you have moved mountains to get the most accurate data for your work. Now you go to the meeting and you get a totally unexpected negative feedback. You are asked to change nearly half of it. Would your reaction change according to your feelings?

Let’s say you are angry how will you react? How will you react if you are disappointed and sad? Will you become defensive? Will you feel totally unappreciated? Will your facial expressions change? Will you pout? Will you lose interest in the meeting? Will you immediately switch to self-pity self-talk mode?

Do you notice the array of feelings you have for the same situation?

The answers to the above leads to my last question, does attaching feeling to the situation help you to be more efficient?

Now let me show you the same situation from an emotionally detached place, a place where you temporarily divorce your feelings.  Your boss is unhappy with your presentation. After the initial shock (because you still think you have done an exceptional job) you make a conscious decision that, you’ll be emotionally detached.

So, instead of pouting, getting angry, getting disappointed, you take a step back and think of this presentation as somebody else’s work.

Now, listen to what your boss says, does it make sense? If no, then won’t you be in a better mental state to put forth your thoughts and convince him? Won’t you be better equipped to take in constructive feedback? Won’t your work be better than it ever was? And won’t the meeting atmosphere be more peaceful and effective than the otherwise confronting and defensive atmosphere?

When I answered these questions I felt I would be a better professional if I could detach myself from the results and learn to respond to the situation instead of reacting to what “I thought” was the wrong outcome of that situation.

Do ponder over this, and do let me know your thoughts on whether this detachment thing makes sense or not. I would be very glad if you could share your experiences of how you handled high voltage situations by being calm and saint-like 🙂

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2 responses

  1. Sangita Moulik Gupta

    Absolutely a great thing to do, glad that you are sharing your discovery with others in the arena of professional life, as though we all may know about it but we do not apply these thoughts in our daily professional life. but when we get to read these types of articles and realize that all of us go through these situations and this is the best way to deal with it, then we will make a conscious decision to apply these positive thoughts. Way to go!! Very well written Reshma! Keep the good and inspiring articles coming in 🙂

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  2. Gopala Krishnan

    Hard to do really get into the third person’s shoes and detach when you have put in so much effort at your work and you are questioned/or asked to re-work completely. Yes, if we could do that I guess we will be more productive in what we do in our roles.

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