Friday Feelings — What is it and how can it help our workplace?

Whenever I mention Friday Feelings to someone new, I almost always get the same strange look from people. Especially if that person happens to be male. A look that says something like “Feelings, that sounds like some hipster nonsense!”. The following is an attempt to explain what Friday Feelings is and what potential benefits come out of it.

We are all human beings, kind of obvious right? But we often try to cut out, or repress, a part of us that makes us human when we go to work, our feelings. Often when we come into the office we put up a game face. We try to leave whatever is affecting us at the door. But human beings are emotional creatures. We carry everything with us in some regards, regardless of how much we try to hide it. None of us are immune to life´s challenges, and we all need help, or to be heard, once in a while.

This picture illustrates the cycle between Feelings, Behavior and Thoughts. These are fundamentally linked. How we feel affects the way we behave and think. And in turn, our behavior affects our thoughts and feelings. This is of course an over-simplification and basically 200 years of psychology boiled down to a single picture.

Friday Feelings help us practice empathy, compassion and trust. That leads to a stronger team and stronger team chemistry. That team will deliver better work as it is a stronger unit.

If we are feeling down or upset, oftentimes our colleagues will notice, no matter how hard we try to hide it, as our Thoughts and Behaviors reflect on how we feel. As an example, I have an imaginary team member called Bob. Unbeknownst to me, Bob is having some problems at home. When he comes into the office, I notice that Bob is feeling down and a little bit upset. He didn´t even say good morning back to me! We humans often tend to be a little self-centered, so I assume Bob is upset at me for some reason. So I start being a little snippy at Bob, since I don´t feel I´ve done anything to merit this from Bob. Bob notices I´m acting snippy towards him. This upsets him as he´s dealing with personal issues and here I am making his day worse. A small negative cycle has emerged.

If we trust each other to talk about when we are feeling down, the team can and will automatically help us through that period. If we know a team member is off their game due to some issues in their personal life, we can pick up the slack while they deal with it. Instead of seeing a loss of productivity and thinking it´s just down to incompetence or laziness.

When I´m talking about trust, it´s important to understand what exactly that means. Its an environment where I can trust that I receive criticism when applicable and that the criticism is to improve the work, not to belittle or drag me down. This goes the opposite way as well, ie I can criticize knowing that everyone understands that we are aiming for a better result, not to belittle team members.

Friday Feelings is a concept to try and create the platform to reap these benefits.

Teams are of course different and should use whatever works for them. But here are a few points to get you started.

  • Friday Feelings is a meeting where a team or a group of people sit down together for an hour or so and talk about where they are emotionally at that given time.
  • It´a platform built on trust. That we trust that whatever is spoken about in that session, does not leave that session.
  • Attending the meeting is optional.
  • We start with a random team member and then we move clockwise.
  • You can share as little or as much as you want, or pass.
  • The people that are listening do not need to comment or try to solve anything that the speaker is talking about. Just being present and listening is what is required. If the person sharing would like comments on what is being shared, please take part if you are up for it.
  • There is no limit and how long each person can talk.
  • Be present. No laptops and no checking phones.

A good idea is also to have check-ins on our daily stand-ups. That is great way to check in and say something brief about how we are feeling. “I had bad nights sleep and am feeling a bit off today”, something along those lines might prevent a misunderstanding with Bob as I described earlier. Here we do not have to go into any details. These daily check-ins might also be a good starting point to then move into the bigger scheduled Friday Feelings meetings

You might, after reading all of this, be thinking that this is a platform only for sharing negative feelings, which is absolutely not the case! We should share all our emotions, if we are comfortable sharing them, good or bad. We should share our joy, happiness, pride and accomplishments.

As I said above, at the end of the day we are all human beings, chock full of emotions. We should strive to create an environment that not only acknowledges that, but also embraces it. An environment that gives us a platform to talk about our emotions and where we are at each given moment. We should be able to bring our whole selves and our humanity to work.
Work places should help their employees becoming better people. Better people become better employees.

Vulnerability and empathy creates trust and trust makes us go faster together.

I promise.