It happens. You hate your boss, but you love your job. Or you love your boss, but hate your job. Or you’ve seen a colleague in that position, or you have a client so encumbered.

I’ve seen it play itself out in more than one work situation. In fact, in one situation, I accompanied the manager who went to tell Ms. Employee, and I quote, “He’s not going to change. You’re going to lose. Save yourself some misery and quit right now, or change your attitude.” (Quit the job, or quit feeling that way.)

She didn’t. She continued to dig herself deeper into a hole, spending more time and energy on the personality conflict than on her work, getting worse all the time at her job … in what appeared for all the world like “a drop in cognitive functioning,” until, not surprisingly, she was fired.

We know emotions can affect cognitive functioning; that’s what Emotional Intelligence is all about. Now there’s more scientific confirmation.

The article on www.newscientist.com , based on research reported in Nature Neuroscience, must be read carefully. It’s called “Brains Drained by Hidden Race Bias.”

The article begins, “People with implicit racial prejudices are left mentally exhausted after interacting with someone from a different race, perhaps because they are trying to quell their feelings.”

This is based on the finding that “areas in the brain associated with self-control [executive function] light up in white people with implicit racial biases when they are shown images of black people.” (They “light up” under MRI brain scanning.)

Let me direct you at this point to the site to study the research design and conclusions and form your own opinion -- http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994388 .

The researchers ascertained which white subjects were racially prejudiced against black people, had them interview with a black person “on a controversial subject,” and then gave them a “thinking” test. It should be noted a “controversial subject” would add more emotion to the equation.

Results obtained through the MRI brain scans which are giving us so much information about intelligence, emotions, and their interaction, showed that “the subject’s mental resources [were] temporarily drained by their efforts to suppress their prejudices.”

The scientists were hopeful to use this information to do something to intervene. As William Gehring, University of Michigan, wrote in comment to the research, “It is indisputable that prejudice exists, and the scientific study of its cognitive and neural underpinnings is exceedingly important.”

Let’s just say here it’s another good reason to get rid of prejudice, but then we didn’t need another good reason to get rid of prejudice, did we?

Thinking and acting are, of course, two different things, but, as usual, we do not fool our bodies. Look at that physical reaction. An editorial in Nature Neuroscience quickly adds that while “the study links certain brain activity with implicit bias, it says nothing about what causes that bias or how the bias affects behavior towards people of other races.”

However, it’s very clear how it affects the person with the feelings. Those with low bias, did not have a drop in cognitive functioning.

Lead researcher Jennifer Richeson, Dartmouth, concluded that in today’s modern multicultural world, “being biased has negative consequences for us.”

A broader application is to note what it does to us when we are generating negative feelings. If you are reacting this way, it’s going to lower your cognitive functioning. Which is sort of what “work” is all about. You have to be able to think. We return to the tenets of coaching – find your passion. Find work you love, you’ll do better at it. Make choices. If you dislike something you have two alternatives: remove yourself from the situation, or learn to manage your emotions in regards to it. Prejudice, for instance, is learned. What’s learned, can be unlearned.

And the corollary to this is that when we dwell in rancor, hatred and prejudice, it may or may not damage the other, but it definitely damages us. Bias slows us down, and anger kills us … whether suppressed or expressed.

If we could all just learn to get along, within ourselves, and between one another … and that’s what Emotional Intelligence is all about.

It seems fitting to end with these words from Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution: “The emotional frontier is truly the next frontier to conquer in human understanding. The opportunity we face now, even before that frontier is fully explored and settled, is to develop our emotional potential and accelerate rather dramatically into a new state of being.”

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, cEQc, The EQ Coach™, http://www.susandunn.cc . Coaching for all your needs – transition, career, relationships, resilience, Emotional Intelligence. Distance learning programs, EQ eBook Library – http://www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html . Emotional Intelligence coaching, training, teaching, assessments and business programs for risk management. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for FREE eZine.