I know you’re busy! Here are short and practical action steps and insights:

  • Feeling positive has a big impact on creativity and innovativeness
  • You can make yourself feel positive by being aware of your progress at work and talking to other people about it
  • To avoid negative moods, view obstacles to your goals as progress and improve your communication skills

If you don’t believe that your moods have enough importance on your work performance, this article will try to convince you otherwise. In a journal article, Stéphane Côté combines evidence from various researches to suggest that there is a causal relationship between our emotional state and our work performance.

What have the researches found? They find that there is a strong correlation between our emotional state and our work performance – even stronger than the effect of job satisfaction on performance. So if you believe that you will do well in a job you love, you also shouldn’t ignore your moods at work.

Côté talks about how positive emotional states are very useful in tasks requiring creativity, such as coming up with a marketing strategy. Researches show that positive moods raise innovativeness. One explanation for this is that when we are feeling well, we interpret our situations to be safe and harmless. This feeling of security and relaxation allows us to become creative.

Knowing that our moods improve our performance, what should we do? Sandra Ohly and Antje Schmitt research on factors that cause positive and negative moods at work. Before we look into these factors, I want to talk about categories of positive and negative moods mentioned in Ohly and Schmitt’s journal article. The categories are:

  • Enthusiastic – when our mood is positive and full of exciting thoughts
  • At rest – when we feel happy although positive thoughts aren’t bombarding our minds
  • Worried – when we are full of anxious thought
  • Angered – when we are full of angry thoughts
  • Exhausted – when our mood is negative and our minds aren’t full of thoughts

We should aim to be enthusiastic or at rest while avoid being worried, angered or exhausted.

How? According to Ohly and Schmitt’s research, examples of events causing positive moods include:

Progress Toward Goals

All of us have goals. These can be related to work or to what we want in life. Knowing that we have made progress toward goals would especially make us feel enthusiastic and to some extent can make us feel at rest.

With this insight, I recommend you, if you can, to design your work so that you are highly aware of your progress. Knowing that you have made a progress, even if it is small, can create a sense of enthusiasm that would improve your work performance.

Social Recognition

Another event that can make you feel at rest or enthusiastic is having other people know your progress and performance. This can easily be done by having little talks about your work with your coworkers or your friends. Only having a few more other people know that you have made a progress may have a bigger positive impact on your moods than you realize.

Now that we have discussed events that you make you feel good, let’s look at some events that can make you feel worried, angered and exhausted:

Obstacles to Goals

Every goal has obstacles. If you’re like most people, when you are trying to achieve a goal but something stands in your way, you’ll experience negative emotions, especially anger. However, unlike most events, these obstacles are difficult to avoid. That doesn’t mean, though, that the moods resulting from them are unavoidable.

These types of events can only negatively affect you if you view them as obstacles. Surely they are obstacles, but I don’t recommend think of them as ones if you want to change your moods to increase performance. Instead, although difficult, you can even try thinking of them as progress so that you feel enthusiastic! Very few goals don’t come with obstacles. So if you remind yourself that you will have to experience obstacles anyway, actually experiencing them and solving them can be a tick off the list.

Communication Problems

Communication is another factor that can result in negative moods. Luckily, this is something we can avoid.

By trying to improve your communication skills, putting effort into understanding what the other person is trying to convey and into accurately conveying your thoughts, you can avoid this problem and its resulting negative moods.


Our moods can have a big impact on how well we work. As a result, it would be a good idea to consider what can affect our moods so that we can influence our moods and so our performance.

Improving our moods would, though, not only increase our performance, it would also increase our quality of life, which is something we should ultimately be aiming for.


  • Côté, Stéphane. “Affect and Performance in Organizational Settings.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 8, no. 2, 1999, pp. 65–68.
  • Ohly, Sandra, and Antje Schmitt. “What Makes Us Enthusiastic, Angry, Feeling at Rest or Worried? Development and Validation of an Affective Work Events Taxonomy Using Concept Mapping Methodology.” Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 30, no. 1, 2015, pp. 15–35.

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