GHP September 2015

ghp September 2015 | 43 The eight basic emotions Neuroscientific research is underlining the damage that bullying does to the human brain; neuroscience is beginning to give insights into how organizations can become fear-free and reduce the incidence of bullying. Our recent book (‘The Fear Free Organization – vital insights from neuroscience to transform your business culture’) explains how fear is one of the eight basic emotions that underpin all actions, thoughts and feel- ings. It is one of the five emotions related to ‘survival’ (the others being anger, disgust, shame and sadness). Brains are wired to survive: to scan for threats. When a danger is perceived, the brain will focus on dealing with it until it is resolved, to the detriment of all other activi- ties. Effectively, the brain is managing the energy that is available to it, ensuring that survival is paramount. Of all the emotions, fear is the one that is most easily triggered. This is because it is designed to help keep the individual safe from danger, such as bullies at work. A culture full of fear is easy to establish, but it is extremely corrosive. It generates high levels of stress, costing companies money and time to deal with the damage done to employees, businesses and reputa- tion. Ultimately, fear in an organization is capable of destroying both people and businesses. Two of the eight basic emotions are related to ‘attach- ment’ – these are trust/love and excitement/joy. The eighth emotion is surprise, and it can be concerned with either ‘survival’ or ‘attachment’ depending on the circumstance (surprise/horror or surprise/delight). When trust/love is present at work, extraordinary things can happen. The brain is released from looking out for danger and can focus entirely on the job in hand. Trust/love is the antidote to fear. Productivity increases, as does efficiency. Communication is open and effortless. Relationships flourish. The organization is easily galvanized into action to deliver its purpose. When excitement/joy is in the workplace, people will use their energy innovating and having fun. In combi- nation with trust/love, truly remarkable innovation can happen, alongside growth and positive relationships. When organizations are characterised by the attach- ment emotions, bullies cannot survive. Honest and open communication means that bullies are dealt with promptly and fairly. Trustful relationships mean that staff are listened to with respect and can bring the best of themselves to work. Excitement and joy is ex- pressed and both patients and workforce benefit daily. Conclusion Whilst policies are useful to give guidelines to staff on how to proceed when relationships breakdown as a result of bullying at work, it is much more important to prevent the bullying in the first place by establishing a culture based on trust/love and excitement/joy, and mak- ing sure that fear stays out of the workplace altogether. Joan Kingsley and Dr Sue Paterson are authors of The Fear-Free Organization: Vital Insights from Neuroscience to Transform your Business Culture, a pioneering new book that draws attention to the need for senior staff to appreciate how fear may be ruling their businesses and how this is affecting their teams, prohibiting the development of new ideas, creativity and unlimited potential. Available from £29.99 from all good booksellers and the Kogan Page website. health and social care