Faking it in a business meeting? You're not alone

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Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 12:00 am

Have you ever faked emotion in a business meeting? Pretended to be happy or excited about a project to please your boss?

Doing so has negative outcomes, like emotional exhaustion, withdrawal, burnout and job dissatisfaction, UNO professor Joseph Allen and others wrote in a recent research report on “emotional regulation” in workplace meetings.

The study found a correlation between the “coercive power” others at the meeting had over the participant, and whether the participant engaged in “surface acting.” And it found that people who are more “susceptible to emotional contagion” – more likely to be influenced by and imitate the emotions of group members – may be more likely to engage in surface acting in meetings where high-powered individuals are present.

Allen discussed the results with the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology. He advised, “Making as many meetings relevant as possible and eliminating non-relevant meetings can help minimize the drudgery of meetings in general and help people feel as though they are accomplishing important work-related tasks in their meetings.”

Allen heads up the Center for Meeting Effectiveness at UNO, where he studies workplace meetings, how they affect employees, and how to improve them for both leaders and participants.

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