#056 Emotions at work with Mollie Rogers Jean De Dieu

#056 Emotions at work with Mollie Rogers Jean De Dieu

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Episode Transcript

Sharad Lal: Hi, everyone. Welcome to how to live. A podcast that explores ways to live a good life. I'm your host Sharad Lal. This is episode 56.

What role should emotions play at work? How can they help us grow and be more productive? We discussed this in malt with Mollie Rogers Jean De Dieu. Mollie is the general manager of the French fashion house, lawn Shaw. A TEDx speaker and an auto. She's the founder of the nonprofit organisation called emotional inclusion. That's leading the way for humane work. Over a two decade career in the fashion industry. Mollie has come across hundreds of stories of people navigating work while facing adversities at home.

Most had to face these perfect storms while trying to numb their emotions at work. This made Mollie realise the scale of the problem and motivated her to become an advocate of emotional inclusion at work. With this motivation, she founded a nonprofit, wrote a book that's been published by penguin random house, started a podcast that's been ranked high globally and has become a thought leader for inclusion of emotions at work. Mollie has been featured in Vogue. Grazia Tatler And many other publications. A work on emotional inclusion has been endorsed by Harvard professor, dr. Amy Edmondson, a pioneer in the space of psychological safety. And today's condensation. Mollie. And I talk about being professional while being human. How to bring emotions in the workplace, a Bavaro of emotions, spirituality, and a lot more. But before getting to the episode.

Thank you very much for supporting the podcast. Folks in 125 countries listened to our podcast and we're in the top 5% in the world. Do consider subscribing. If you haven't already. Thank you in advance. And a big shout out to the folks at the great room in Robinson road, Singapore, where they conduct these conversations. Heiko Mitzi and Mira. You've been extremely professional and helpful. Thank you guys. And thank you to the rest of the wonderful team in the great room. Now here's the conversation with the inspirational Mollie Rogers Jean De Dieu. 

Hi, Mollie. Good afternoon. Welcome to the How to Live podcast.

Mollie Rogers: Hi, Sharad, it's such a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Sharad Lal: Thanks for making it Mollie. And today we're going to talk about emotions at work. I know, you're very passionate about the topic. You wrote a book, you have a nonprofit foundation and you're a leading voice. But love to understand where this deep drive came from? To understand emotions at work. Where did that origin come from?

Mollie Rogers: My aha moment was really when I realised that companies that have the luxury of having diversity. Equity and inclusion platforms. Speak of all kinds of inclusion. And yet they neglect to speak about the form of inclusion. That is the closest story. Humanity. And that's our emotional selves. emotions have gotten such a bad rap over the years. this deep rooted stigma, Around emotions, equating to weakness or I'm professionalism at work. I thought it was time to. rip the bandaid and to open up the conversation around what it means to be human at work. breaking this. False. Assumption. Of our being able to dissociate our. Home cells from our work cells as if that were a thing it's, as we all know, it's impossible to do so why are we still demanding that out of our employees? And that's a really big topic today.

we're not two people, we're not like a professional self and a personal self. We're one whole person. Yeah. And with us being one whole person. Why is it important to bring these emotions to work? What role do they play at work? Our emotions allow us not just to survive, but also to thrive.

I talk about this in my Ted talk a little bit, our emotions are art, this inner compass of ours. They allow us to navigate our way through. our lives on a daily level. when we. Ask our employees to Shove that to the side. We are stripping them of effectively what makes them whole, and we're stripping them of their creativity. We are stripping them of their sensitivity. Emotions are important in the workplace. Because they allow us to feel connected. To the work that we do and to the people that we work with. even in moments where they're. Not okay. Because that's life, right?

We're all going through our valleys and peaks. None of us are at the top Of our game all the time. It allows us to feel a sense of connection and a sense of purpose to the ecosystem in which we're in as a whole.

Sharad Lal: I find it interesting that he brought out two ends of the spectrum. Often we think of emotions as negative. And they suppress us. And how do we manage it? But you talked about the first part where there's a lot of power to emotions. It can bring out creativity. We talk about motivation.

We talk about charm. We talked about it. Taking the organisation forward passion that comes from the place of emotion. And if you don't have emotions that don't come. And of course, then you touched upon these obviously difficult emotions that we might be facing enough. Personal life. And if you come to work numbing it. The problems as well. What are some of the problems you've seen with people trying to suppress their emotions? What damage is going to do to individuals, steam environment? What have you seen?

Mollie Rogers: It disconnects them at the very core, I think the problem today is that so many people are going through their hardships. And not being able to voice them out because of a fear because of workplace emotional or behavioural stigma. Because of The fear of stepping. Up and showing their true selves. Actually psychological studies find that one of the biggest end of life regrets is not showing up as our truth sells.

I vividly remember. This is a personal story, but losing a child, and having to go to the office. Shortly then on and after. Not knowing who to talk to about it. Or, even thinking does.

My story even. merit. It is being shared to anyone in the office. Does it have its place in the office? And I winded up. keeping it to myself. And what that created was that. Sense of loneliness. one that was. Clearly. Chosen.

But I, at the time, didn't think that speaking up about it was going to help me in any capacity.

Sharad Lal: Very sorry Mollie to hear about your loss and thank you very much for sharing that story. Many people might identify with their own stories. Like the way you shared it.

Mollie Rogers: When you come into work and you're facing something difficult, you firstly don't know whether you should share it, not share it. And that gets you lonely. And others who might know it may not know. Do I bring it up? How do I bring it up? Is it going to come into place of work? But that is such an important part of you, which is going to come into work, whether you like it or not over a period of time. And that is why. I think you mentioned your book as well when you're facing the perfect storm. There needs to be an avenue of having this type of difficulty. Conversation emotions show up. Yeah. So I was wondering. Around something like this around. A grief. Like this, what is the best way? For a person to show up their emotion and what is the best way for the organisation to create space for a person to work effectively with this difficult emotion.

It's not just a human resource problem. It's how do we integrate emotional inclusion within the very fabric of our DNAs? That means, for example, having diversity equity and inclusion platforms, Spearhead meaningful campaigns in and around what it means to have emotions in the workplace.

Shell had this. Really wonderful campaign that they Worked on called uncomfortable truths. Where shell employees were talking about. What was difficult for them within the workplace? And I thought that to be very brave and centred, instead of always. Wanting to point the finger outside of one's organisation.

Let's look at ourselves, If we don't tackle the matter. We will be left behind. According to a study led by Deloitte. 68% of employees and 81% of the C-suite say that. Taking care of their wellbeing is now more important to them than advancing their career. and for the 3 billion people working in the world today60% of employees are emotionally detached at work. And 19% are miserable and that's from a steady. Led by a Gallup in 2022 as well.

So if we look at the statistics and just park here for a while there is no escape. And for CEO's. Again, managing directors. Heads of businesses. We have the lion's share of responsibility when it comes to creating the change we want to see in this world. Real change trickles from the top. that starts with being vulnerable.

In my book. I touch upon a little bit about my divorce. And I remember when choosing at the right time to share my story. To my colleagues. Was when I started to really feel a sense of. Meaningful support. They were genuine. They were carrying.

there's something to be said about being. On a leadership level. Vulnerable. Because what that does in return. Is that then? Your employees feel that they can do the same with you.

Sharad Lal: I liked that other point. Would you talk about vulnerability? Which many of us don't. Think about it. It's about when we are in a position and you've processed part of it. Then we come out with a story because we also may not be comfortable sharing it in a raw. Yeah.

Mollie Rogers: So sometimes emotions in the raw form. May not be the best land. Yeah. What are your thoughts on that? If you can click a little bit more on that. How should emotion be, how should we take a narrative? What's the right stage to share, and what's the best way to bring it open so that everyone is comfortable listening to it. And the sense of belonging develops into the notion of respect, right? 

Understanding that we can't force anyone to talk. There's also a cultural attribute here to the equation, And so understanding that there is a notion of respect in terms of. Not pushing forth when someone doesn't want to talk. But again, just being open And spearheading the discussion around what emotions are.

How are they valuable to us? And to the greater good of the company at large. And the more people. Start talking and sharing. The more, eventually others feel comfortable in doing so as well. Mastering the art of listening. Is enough for the person to feel heard. Yeah, so there are a lot of different ways.

There's a quote. And that I love Perry Noble and he says it's okay. Not to be okay. But it's not okay to stay that way.

Sharad Lal: Interestingly, Mollie. There's space to have these emotions and bring out ourselves, but at the same time, this space to actually get work done. And quite often companies. A little wary of him. If we open up emotions, maybe nothing gets done. So I'd love for you to talk about that. How can we bring emotions, but also be effective? How can that balance be struck?

Mollie Rogers: Oh, yeah. It's such a funny Dichotomy isn't it that the lesser, the human component there is in the workplace. The more professional it looks. It profoundly bothers me as well.

It's as if inviting emotions in the workplace is synonymous with inviting more problems as a whole. And that's very much a part of the narrative today within organisations. Unfortunately. There was a time for everything to quote. Dr. Wayne Dyer who and while to sounds very, as a matter of fact, dish it's it couldn't be more relevant.

There is a time to get what we need to get done and put our heads down and focus and concentrate on the mission. And at the same time. Integrating each other's humanity. I don't think it's one or the other and separating. Them.

it can sound backwards to those. Who've never really exercised that within their companies. But I can say from what I experienced first handedly. Only within the scope of my own team. Is, the more I. exercise. Emotional wellness as a whole.

The more they give it back to me a hundred times, fold. And so is productivity. Is no longer an issue. The engagement is no longer an issue.It's part of a whole.

Yeah. I think you'd go to the state where. Was it 80 or 90% of CEO's. One wellness more than even performance. And the ironic thing is that once they get wellness, they find a new gear in that performance.

Sharad Lal: Yeah. And they can move forward. So I know there's a lot of work in. Emotions leading to growth. How it can actually open up new areas. And you've touched a little bit about creativity, but I was wondering if there's any research or story that you have in mind on how emotions can maybe unleash a new area of growth for people.

Mollie Rogers: I have this one story. That was given to me that shocked me. And I actually used it as a reverse case scenario in my Ted talk. But this is a person who was working in the fashion industry. she had just returned from the Funeral over our best friend. And she went to see her. CEO, she was laid on an assignment.

And again, I use a reverse case scenario because that story had. Really. Profoundly bothered me to my core. I just wondered how that could honestly be possible. So she was late for an assignment. She went to CRC. Our CEO. She told him what she was going through. He listened to her for a very brief while. And then reverted to asking her about her assignment that she was laid on as if. You know what she had just allowed her to share. Within that brief moment of vulnerability. Meant nothing to him. And I just, I wonder how that can still happen today. I remember doing a keynote, all emotional inclusion once as well.

And at the end of it, The person came up to talk to me and said, one of his colleagues. That he got along well with committed suicide. the way it was handled. By their company or by his company. was done in a very hush way with very little explanation. He said, how can that be?

And what I did for him was further spearhead. The desire To not be in a world. That accepts or legitimises that kind of behaviour. And for the person who. Shared her story. And she was coming back from her. Best friend's funeral. She wound up leaving the company. And joining a company whose ethos and values. Where. Aligned with. Her own humanistic ones.

When you pull your heart out with the lady who talked about her friend's funeral. And then you get up under the carpet about what to do with work. That's probably the worst response. And I think the second worst response, which many of us don't think is people's problem to solve for you.

They tell you, Hey, you should do this. You should do that. They started giving out. Wise people don't need advice when they're sharing and being vulnerable about their emotions. You pointed out earlier, we need a listening ear. We need the space for that. And then we move on and do our things. So I think it's also important for people around to see how you handle difficult emotions and vulnerability when somebody brings it to the fall?

Yeah, a hundred percent. According to a Harvard business review article, 60% of employees have never spoken about their emotions in the workplace. When you look at The statistics at hand. They're not going there because there's too much fear behind it still, and yet. We see again, first handedly, the damage that it has on our organisations at large. Because people wind up burning out. I Call sick days our days. People are just. Tired of playing roles. Emotional intelligence. Is all about knowing how to navigate our emotions and the emotions of the people we interact with. WE hit what I wanted about emotional intelligence is that it also teaches us how to withhold our emotions. And it forces us into very good actors, right? 

And We all spent so much of our energy acting, covering up who we truly are. Instead. of showing up as our true selves. Just that in itself is exhausting. It's depleting. According to a recent survey, we spent 81,396 hours at work. At work within our lifetime. Can you say that again? 81 80 1,396 hours is how long the average person is. Spent working in their lifetime. If we're spending them acting. Because we're afraid of showing up as our full selves because. Of not fitting into society's definition of what it means to be normal. Right or are being fully seen. And in extreme cases being fired. Then, what does that say about us as a society? What does that say about us as human beings for that matter? We need to change the narrative.

Sharad Lal: Absolutely. Yeah. And that's a great point for people who are also thinking. Like a lot of times when these changes come about, We need to convince even the rational minded people that Hey, even if you're not looking at the human part of the story, there's a business angle to it. And like you said, if every employee is acting and the energy is spent towards keeping up appearances, keeping up their mosque is solving problems.

Mollie Rogers: Being creative. That's a huge depletion of organisation energy. Yeah. And if it's going to be brought back into the company. And the people can bring it in. The workforce, like you said, engagement productory, whatever numbers. People have from a financial standpoint, those also add up. So it's not just being human, which is the core point, but to convince a lot of people, there is a business case for this.

Oh a hundred percent. And I love what you're saying. And. That energy could be spent in. Harbouring creativity, connection and purpose. and, an alignment. All of which would obviously catalyse the business. Further to different levels. Do you have any? An example of a company or someone who's done this belt. Who's taking a difficult emotional situation, a company and doing it so that the employee or the environment has gone and performed well. You might tell me, I saw I'll sound biassed by mentioning shell again, shell is an oil and gas company, not necessarily known as being the most inclusive companies at large. But it's in the book for those who choose to read it.

But there's the story of one of their employees. Who went through a divorce. And then was diagnosed with bipolar. She responded to that in a beautiful way. And they've told that employee to take all the time she needed to get well. to just focus on herself. She did that. And when she came back, They welcomed her back.

Of course. With open arms. And winded up. As time went by, we ended up promoting her. To begin with, First female global head of diversity, equity and inclusion at shell. And so I think. There's a story to be said there. About. One. Going through. A life. Difficulty. Wow. a Life hardship rather divorce. Is hard enough and there is stigma around it.

And people know, whenever someone goes through something difficult they shy away. Oh, for some odd reason but the fact is that tables are always turning every single one of us. R at one point or another. Going to go through something hard. And you want to make sure that you're not alone when it's your turn. But so divorce, sorry, one difficulty or hardship to go through and navigate within the workplace.

And that'd be personal, but then with your peers and your colleagues, people have a tendency of saying I'm so sorry. And, when it's, when people say that to me, I say, please, don't be, I own my story. A hundred percent. And I own it. And it's mine.

And anyways, hardship is one. And then when you move into the category of mental illness, Now, We're really talking and that's the stigma is overwhelming. In and around it. Personally, organizationally insights and society altogether. So Shell's response to that. I Found to be. Absolutely. Exemplary. I truly wish that we don't have to say this. For much longer. Yeah, so that, effectively it is the status quo. You know where. And navigating a mental illness. Whatever it might be. Or some sort of mental hardship. It could be autism, it could be. ADHD.

My son has ADHD. I see firsthand and late. Hey, you know how his brain works versus how a normal brain works. And how, specific medications like Ritalin help you rebalance. And effectively perform just as well. And I'm always telling him, Louie, most of the most successful entrepreneurs, Who are out there. Have ADHD. So it's how we look at the flip. I have a mental illness. soMeone in this case who, the case, I just mentioned. Person who was then promoted to being the global head of DNI, that shell. She has a degree in it. Empathy of a human understanding Of the psyche. That goes beyond making her stellar within her role. And the campaign she's come out with has been that much richer because she has that. That real humanistic, underlying, underlying understanding. anD it gives me goosebumps as we're talking about it because. I'm getting goosebumps. Yeah. It's just, how do we flip the narratives here?

Sharad Lal: Such a wonderful story. What a wonderful point. And one of the things you touched upon that I thought I found very fascinating. When you talked about your own story. When people say, sorry. You don't want that. You own your story? Yeah. Sometimes you don't want to be a weak term. You don't want pity. How does, if you could talk a little bit more in depth about that particular aspect of suffering grief emotions.

Mollie Rogers: We all need to process the hurdles that we are. Having to go through and. It takes a lot of peeling of layers. I know that therapy really was my go-to. I'm pro therapy. I think everyone should have a therapist. Who is outside the sphere?

One's circle of friends and family. As you're going through peeling those layers. Do you have the ability to connect the dots? And it always comes. With time. Because again, there is time that needs to be processed. What is going on? What, what went on. And for me, As much as I value the good in my life.

And I'm grateful for it. I'm also grateful for the hardships because they. Allow me to. Find a greater depth of meaning. In the life that I'm living. Today. And it allows me to.

Understand further. That, which I want to infuse in the world and leave behind. In my small way. And it also. Allows me to be. So much more understanding of others, where. As we were talking about earlier. We're so quick to judge.

But the fact is that we're really all the same. When you own that. Through the hardships that you've gone through. One, it makes life. I find it much more beautiful, much more sincere and authentic, and So much more worth living.

I'm filling this quarter. I don't know, from where we're in a painting, it's not the light, but it's the shadows that add depth. Correct. And I love that. It's. So when you go through something, you feel that depth and then. That kind of is something that you own for yourself. And then you're not looking at pity from people. You don't want to be weak. Yeah. Empathy. You want connectedness with. Those are not the things that you want when you're being vulnerable.

Sharad Lal: Correct. A hundred percent. I love that. Thank you. Yeah. I know you're a very spiritual person. Yep. And what's the element of spirituality that you brought into work and even into emotional inclusion, the thoughts around emotion inclusion.

Mollie Rogers: Listen to the whispers. Of. Your soul. And I know that sounds maybe a little bit. Heavy or. Hippie fairy or whatever the term is. But I think there's something to be said about silence. Just. Allowing ourselves.

To acknowledge where we're coming from. Or acknowledge. That which we have chosen. To do within our very short lifetimes. Because. Our lives are very short. I think it was. Wayne Dyer here again. We said that we are. Spiritual beings having a human experience.

For me, it's looking at the grander scheme of things. Of understanding that we're all small specks in this universe. And that we all have a role to play and that through silence, We can get so many messages. Should we choose to listen to them?

I think silence is so powerful. Especially with so much going on. And I've had some experiences even while doing retreats, with silence over a period of time. The number of voices also reduces, and then there is. Charity. There's one voice. There's some clarity. There's depth. And then. Helps us become wiser and access the pot.

Be more intentional about what we are doing. So I think. Silence really has. A lot to give us.

Sharad Lal: Mollie, what's the one piece of advice that you'd like to leave people with.

Mollie Rogers: Don't be ashamed of your emotions. And listen to them. and they Will. Steer you to where you need to go. 

Sharad Lal: Wonderful.I have one more question. last question, even though that was supposed to be the last one. You've done so well in your life. At the end of your life. How would, you know, you've lived a good life.

Mollie Rogers: I think it's really just knowing that I would have set out to have done what I had told myself to do. Without having to. the trap of fear, right? Because we always are. So sometimes I'm so afraid of doing things. Oh life. Lived for me is a life where I push through my fears. Did what I wanted to do and left a mark in the world hopefully. Lee is the world. A better place. However cliche, that sounds. More cliche things down.

Sharad Lal: The more true there is. Thank you very much Mollie. You're very much on your way. Thank you very much for all the work you're doing. And thank you very much for sharing your time and the how to live podcast. I love this conversation, there are so many good insights. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

Mollie Rogers: Thank you so much, Sharad. It's been such a pleasure being on your show.

Sharad Lal: Thank you, Mollie for such a powerful and useful conversation. For more about Mollie and her book, I will post relevant links in the show notes.

Here is an action step all of us could consider. How do we receive emotions? Whether it's at work or in personal life. When someone comes with a deep emotion to us. How do we do it now? Do we judge? Do we want to roll it under the carpet? Do we start giving needless advice? How can we do it with respect?

Let's spend some time thinking about this. Best of luck. I hope you enjoyed this episode. The next episode will drop two weeks from now on December 19th. Do join us for that. Did next time have a wonderful day ahead. Bye bye.