Emotional Salary is the non-financial or emotional gains we obtain from working that motivate us, change our perception of work and lead to personal and professional development.

Mindset Matters

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them ”.

Albert Einstein

What is a Mindset

Everyone you know and meet has a specific mindset that shapes how we make sense of the world and ourselves. Even if you are not aware of it you have a specific mindset that influences how you think, feel and behave in any given situation and in any environment you happen to find yourself in. This also influences how you perceive certain situations or events you face in your life. A mindset is a set of beliefs, attitudes, feelings, emotions and knowledge that we hold in our minds and that determine the decisions we take in life. You could say that the mindset we hold is the lens through which we not only perceive our reality but also create it and thus, our future. There are a number of factors that influence one’s mindset, directly or indirectly:

Some characteristics about Mindsets:

  • Mindsets refer to your own upbringing, past experiences, learning environments, religious beliefs, social norms and culture.
  • Mindsets are subjective, they are unique for each of us and they will most likely affect not only the outcomes of certain situations but also how we relate to other people. 
  • Mindsets determine how we deal towards adversity, friendships, colleagues and work. 
  • There is a difference between having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, she talks about the pivotal role that mindsets have in our lives and how these impact the success we want to achieve. In her book she also describes the differences that exist in having a fixed or a growth mindset. She describes that having a fixed mindset is the belief that your intelligence, talents and other abilities are set in stone. On the contrary, having a growth mindset means you believe that, with effort, perseverance and drive, you can develop your natural qualities and the beliefs you have about yourself, others and your environment. According to her, having a growth mindset has enormous benefits, such as improving your self-esteem, being more open to learning new skills, accepting new challenges, findng new opportunities and seeking feedback. 


One exercise to examine your beliefs

We could even say that your current outlook depends a great deal on your beliefs and mindset shaped by the decisions you took according to the opportunities presented to you according to your individual circumstances. Of course, there are certain situations that are beyond your control and that cannot be changed but there are others that definitely are in your control and these are the ones that can be shaped and influenced. Many of your beliefs have influenced your decisions and have helped you arrive to where you are now, they impact your thinking, confidence and how you move through life. I invite you to try the following exercise: 

Step 1: Please read the following words: 

  • Success
  • How women or men should be…
  • About showing emotions at work
  • Failure 
  • Industrious


Step 2: Now choose one of the previous words to answer the following: 

  • What does …. mean to me?
  • From …, what bothers me / affects me the most?
  • What is important to me about ….?
  • What is the worst part of ….?
  • What does …. say about me?
  • What is wrong with …..?
  • What is good with …..? 
  • What values are attached to this word?
  • What is the first recollection, image or metaphor that comes to your mind when you think about this word?


Step 3: How do the beliefs and values you attach to these specific words you chose reflect your reality? How do they make you feel about yourself? How have they defined the path you have taken so far? Or where you find yourself at this moment? Which of these values and beliefs do you think are hardened to you and which ones do you think can be changed?

You will find that some of the outcomes of these beliefs are positive or that you are happy with how they have helped you reach your current status. At the same time there might be other outcomes you may not be so happy about. Awareness of which beliefs are shaping your reality is the first step towards changing them if you wish to do so.

Our beliefs about Work and how they impact our reality

According to a quick Google research of words most commonly related to work are the following: 

 Labour, toil, exertion, effort, slog, drudgery, the sweat of one’s brow, industry, service, grind, sweat, donkey work, spadework, elbow grease, graft, fag, tasks, jobs, duties, assignments, commissions, projects. 

You may have noticed that many of these words are neither positive nor pleasurable. For many people it’s challenging to construct a positive identity in their relation to work. In many ways, this is a natural product of our past, our schooling and work experiences, as in many cases, we were not guided and supported to use our genius, creativity, and talents in order to do the work required. Rather, the more common experience is being funnelled through a system that puts us into neat slots like gears in a complex piece of machinery. For this reason it is really easy for us to take everything we perceive and believe about work as given, as inevitable, as intrinsic, as “the way it is and always has been” and cannot be changed. In other words, we have a fixed mindset of what work is and what is supposed to bring to our lives. This mindset we have towards work and our work experience shapes our reality at work. It will influence how we feel when we go to work, how we talk about it and how we experience the time we spend at work. For most people the time we spend at work has only one end goal, that is to earn money and little else. No one is opposed to earning money through work. On the contrary, everyone should have a fair remuneration according to their experience, skills, talents, competences and responsibilities. I was recently interviewed by Aoife O’Brian for her “Happiness at Work” podcast and at the end of the interview she asked me “What do you think about Happiness at Work?”. My answer was “I believe that happiness at work happens when you feel that the time you spend at work is time well spent”. I truly and deeply believe that if we think that we are wasting our valuable time at work we are giving away our most treasured asset. 

Taking into consideration that time is our most valuable asset and studying recent polls about engagement at work we can see that in the developed world we live in an era where a feeling that we are wasting our most valuable asset prevails. We are spending time without being aware where it goes or what the point of this dedicated time at work is. It seems that when it comes to work, we’ve come to accept the concept of ‘no pain, no gain’ as being the proper route to success and prosperity. There is a sense that we need to tough it out in the hopes that – someday – we might finally be able to do what we want to do because we’ve ‘paid our dues’.  And so, we inevitably hunker down hoping that someday our time will come as a reward for all the sacrifices we’ve made. We’ll finally get to live the life we always wished for and do the work that we’ve dreamed about doing all those years.

No doubt this is why so many insurance and retirement planning companies rely on images of retired couples lounging on a boat off some tropical island, or taking up salsa dancing lessons before enjoying a night in town.

In each instance the message is clear – we can live the life we really want . . . but only after we’ve committed to giving the best part of our lives today to doing work that might not be what we had planned or should be doing.

In this light, it’s not too surprising why we’ve created a negative connotation around the word ‘work’, whether it’s as a verb or a noun.

I believe that we are missing a key piece to the puzzle about how we want to spend our lives and our future. If we don’t want employees to be seen as objects and we don’t want to be seen or treated  as objects, we must change our mindset towards work. We must take a holistic approach and embrace our whole uniqueness as human beings. The reality is that we, as human beings, have a range of other needs that must be met, such as biological, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, social, value, aesthetic and spiritual. These needs cannot only be met in our lives outside of work but also need to be considered during the time we spend at work. This means that in the workplace, as in any human community, we (the employee) need to find the space allowing us to facilitate and promote our integral development as a person in all these dimensions. Should we not find it at work we need to start creating it. As Yuval Noah Harari said in one interview  “The world in which we live doesn’t have to be the way it is. People made it what it is and people can change it.” This leaves the future of our experience at work in our hands. 

The world in which we live didn't have to be the way it is. People made it what it is and people can change it

Introducing the concept of Emotional Salary as a topic to evaluate and consider when talking about work can truly shape our experience at work and how we relate to it. 

We have to bear in mind that this shift in mindset about work is a task that concerns all stakeholders involved. What beliefs do we have about our own company or about the people in our charge? What do we think about their personal, professional development in their working time? On the other hand, as employees or freelancers, with what beliefs do we enter our workplaces? With what beliefs do we start our tasks? What beliefs and values do we attach to the way we relate to people at work and how are they influencing the results we get?  Co-responsibility (among employees, leaders and the organization) is key and is central to the way we want to shape our work. 

By implementing this view in the workplace I believe that step by step the consequence will be the betterment of society as a whole.

As we start forging new beliefs of what work and its possibilities entail, new opportunities will arise. Imagine for a moment that work could be a place where you can exploit your creativity, grow at a personal level, and become aware of how important your work is for the development of your social connections or social growth. If we start becoming aware of all the benefits that are possible to gain from work beyond  the financial ones, we will notice that the possibilities of continuous growth are immense. The more we become aware of these gains, the more we appreciate them, and the more we appreciate them, the more we will search for those benefits. We start seeing work not only as a place where a transaction takes place, but it becomes a platform for our personal and professional  growth. A stage to encounter resources, people, knowledge and a space that enables us to become the person we want to be. But again, this requires being aware of our mindsets about work, examining what work brings us beyond the financial aspect, taking ownership of our actions, responsibility for their consequences and envisioning the possibilities of aquiring new knowledge and new experiences from it.

We have to bear in mind that a change of mindset does not happen at the turn of a coin. It is a long term journey. An everyday journey. A journey where what matters is not the destination, but the journey itself. 

The question is how and where can we start this journey? How can we start taking ownership and responsibility for the mindsets we have about work and start taking action to change it and start transforming our workplaces. 

How can the Emotional Salary Factors help you at work (infographic about the 10 factors)


10 Emotional Salary FactorsThe ten Emotional Salary Barometer factors are a great basis to start from. To begin challenging the beliefs you have towards your work and noticing some improvement. 

Take a look at the 10 factors of the Emotional Salary Barometer and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How do each of these factors become reality at your work? 
  • Which one would you like to improve or to have more of? 
  • What are the beliefs you have about this factor? For example, if you choose creativity, some possible beliefs could be that you would be judged, or you could not express your ideas in fear of rejection, that you might fail, that your work does not require you to be creative. 
  • For each negative belief you have toward the factor, try to create an alternative belief. Following the Creativity example this could be: 
  •  “I could be judged” Alternative belief: It is not my job to make everyone in life like me. I am  unique and there will be no one like me.  
  •  “I can be rejected” Alternative belief: Rejection is part of life and to move forward with my ideas, I need to ask. No is not deadly.
  • “I might fail” Alternative belief. Fear is not real. It is in my mind and It is only holding me back from doing something that is important to me.
  • My work does not require me to be creative. Alternative belief: Your perspective is unique and even if your role does not require you to be creative, everyone can benefit from some of your great ideas.


Your beliefs – Your career

The beliefs you have about your work and the benefits that work can give you have an enormous influence on your feeling and engagement at work. Remember that your beliefs drive your feelings and emotions which in turn drive and influence your behaviour and actions. 

If you would like to know how to integrate Emotional Salary in your workplace, feel free to contact us here


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