Researchers have revealed that authentic behaviour, which means not faking your feelings, is more productive at the workplace and leads to other benefits.Also Read - Our 'oohs' and 'aahs' convey 24 types of emotion: Study
“We found that people who put forth an effort to display positive emotions towards others at work – versus faking their feelings – receive higher levels of support and trust from co-workers,” said study co-author Chris Rosen from the University of Arkansas in the US.
“These people also reported significantly higher levels of progress on work goals likely due to the support they received,” Rosen added.
From surveys of more than 2,500 working adults in a variety of industries, including education, manufacturing, engineering and financial services, the researchers analysed two types of emotion regulation people use at work: surface acting and deep acting.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, surface acting involves faking positive emotions when interacting with others in the work environment.
One might be frustrated or angry on the inside, but the external appearance disguises those feelings.
Deep acting involves trying to change how one feels internally. With deep acting, individuals try to feel more positively in order to be more pleasant when interacting with others, the study added.
The researchers wanted to know if people regulated their emotions when interacting with co-workers, and, if so, why they chose to do this if there were no formal rules requiring them to do so. And then, what benefits, if any, did they receive from this effort?
The researchers identified four types of people who regulate their emotions with co-workers.
Nonactors engage in negligible levels of surface and deep acting, low actors display slightly higher surface and deep acting, deep actors exhibit the highest levels of deep acting and low levels of surface acting, and regulators display high levels of surface and deep acting.
Nonactors were the smallest group in each study, and the other three groups were similar in size.
Regulators were driven by “impression management,” which the researchers defined as strategic motives that include gaining access to resources or looking good in front of colleagues and supervisors.
Deep actors were much more likely to be motivated by “prosocial” concerns, meaning they chose to regulate their emotions with co-workers to foster positive work relationships and be courteous.
Regulators – those who mixed high levels of surface and deep acting – experienced emotional exhaustion and fatigue, the researchers found, whereas deep actors – those who relied largely on deep acting – had improved well-being.