Rock ‘n Roll your way at work everyday

Music and our brains share one of the most fascinating yet, arguably, one of the most unexplored relationships. Our modern forms evolved some 200,000 years ago, while our ancestors have been around for much longer. However, the oldest musical instruments found till date are flutes with an age of around 30,000-40,000 years, although that does not take in to account the use of voice, simple percussion and the music of nature –the undersea songs of humpback whales, the songs composed by birds using the rhythmic variations, the sound of the sea, winds and rain. Thus, on the evolutionary timeline, music is a very recent phenomenon.

Scientists are still trying to figure out what goes on in our brains when we listen to music, and how it causes potent effects on the psyche. We have all experienced that when we listen to music, no matter the genre, our mind evokes emotions, and in turn these emotions will determine our like or dislike for the music. In that sense, music and emotions go hand in hand. Music affects the most important and powerful organ in the body – the brain, Music has the ability calm us, excite us, make us happy or to depress us. In fact, music is one of the few things to which unborn children respond in the womb, apart from the mother’s voice. Music is truly a gift to the mind, and one that can translate into many psychological benefits.

Speaking of emotions, we usually associate them with the way we feel in our personal life. However, emotions also play a very significant role in our work environment, where we often spend the most of our day. A lot of research is being done on the subject of workplace emotions. A key finding from these studies suggests a leader’s level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a better predictor of success than his or her IQ.  Studies also show that outstanding leaders are distinguished more by their degree of EQ than by their technical or analytical skills. While we know of methods to work on technical and analytical skills, how does one work on EQ?

A bad mood can frequently put others in one, too. One individual’s negativity can contaminate even good news. “We engage in emotional contagion,” says Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace. She adds, “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.” So, it’s necessary to overcome our negative emotions and display positive emotions which would ultimately increase our Emotional Intelligence. One of the ways to do this, that I have discovered, is through rock music. \m/

Rock and roll music originated in the United States in the 1950s. It can be classified as a form of popular music arising from, and incorporating a variety of musical styles – especially, rhythm and blues, country music and gospel.  It is also characterized by electronically amplified instrumentation, a heavily accented beat and relatively simple phrase structure. Rock and roll uses “basic backbeat and shuffle rhythms of rhythm and blues” that demands a physical response from the listener, and in turn, gets people to loosen up and alleviates stress and worry. It has been scientifically proven that “music with a rapid tempo, and written in a major key, can be correlated precisely with the induction of happiness”. It is no wonder that rock music has, and continues to elicit such positive, happy, energetic and arousing emotions from its listeners.

So, with that context, below are five songs, handpicked by yours truly, which would help you cope with five hard to handle emotion at workplace –  Frustration, Worry or insecurity, Anger, Feeling “down”, Dislike.


The complexity of today’s work environment and the demands that are placed on all of us to perform make frustration or irritation one of the most common negative workplace emotions. I suggest lets counter with hope – Listen to “Don’t Stop Believin’ – by the American rock band Journey.

The song is about the common search for love and the fear of loneliness. The lyrics focus on a metaphor for all the things we use to fill the void in our lives so we don’t feel the pain of emptiness and loneliness. It also addresses escaping from your past, whatever it may be, and looking toward a better tomorrow. “Don’t stop believin’, Hold on to that feelin'”: Don’t give up hope, keep searching for that meaningful symphony regardless of how difficult and trying the search is.

Worry or insecurity

Change, and the feeling of loss of control triggered by that change, can make us feel nervous or insecure at work, and can even affect our self-confidence. With so much change in our everyday work life, it’s no wonder that many of us feel more worried and insecure than ever before. I suggest let’s get rocking in uncertain times with one of the best riffs ever, great guitar work, and perfect lyrics –“Sunshine of your love” by Cream, the 1960’s British rock super-group power trio consisting of bassist/singer Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and guitarist/singer Eric Clapton.

This is an uncomplicated, innocent rock love song with no hidden meanings. At times of uncertainty, when you tend to worry much, give this song a try. The mix of hard rock with aspects of psychedelia creates a wonderful melancholy that will give you a clear message – in times uncertainty rock n roll your way to love – the sunshine of your life


Anger takes many forms, and sometimes is a symptom of fear, insecurity or depression. Unless anger is managed, it can get misdirected at targets in our personal and work lives, without us even realizing it. I suggest managing anger with trust – Listen to “Nothing else matters” – by Metallica, an American heavy metal band formed in 1981.

I label this song as a trust song, about the prosperity and preservation of human friendship, and that’s all that matters. No matter what kind of personality you have, the need for companionship is always there –  lover, friend, or relative. Although the melody feels dark and dramatic, this is a song very special to me. Don’t let what people think about you and what they want you to be, change you. Always be “true in who you are”, the person you truly are. And, if you always remember exactly who you are, nothing else in life matters. The song says that in love trust and being true to your heart is all that matters. Listen to it when you’re angry and I’m sure that this song will definitely heal your anger.

Feeling “down”

Everyone feels “low” or has a bad day now and then. Feeling down can be a response to a setback or feeling overloaded. But left unchecked, feeling down can interfere with productivity and with relationships with co-workers. I suggest bounce back from these occasional “blues” with a dose of confidence. Listen to “Time is on my side” by the famous English rock band The Rolling Stones which was formed in 1962. Sir Michael Philip “Mick” Jagger was the band’s lead vocalist.

The first time I heard this song was in the movie Fallen, with Denzel Washington as the lead. This song was used in the background for the opening credits scene, showcasing a convict walking down the prison lanes for the last time before his death sentence. Imagine the power of the song which made the convict enjoy the last few moments of his life singing “Time is on my side”. No matter how low I feel, the jazz and rock fusion presented by this tune with crystal clear lyrics always fills me up with positive vibes.


We work with many different types of people who have a wide variety of personalities. All of us, from time-to-time, find ourselves working closely with someone we do not like from a personal point of view. All of us need to find ways to work effectively and productively with people we dislike, without letting our emotions affect our actions. I suggest eliminating dislike with hauntingly beautiful tunes of guitar that evoke spirituality and leads you to a metaphorical journey in search of meaning in a world of ambiguity. Listen to – “Stairway to heaven” by Led Zeppelin, an English rock band formed in 1968 founded by Jimmy Page who was also the lead guitarist.

I think “Stairway to Heaven” is an unequivocal masterpiece, and I love it without irony or qualification. Arguably the greatest rock song ever created, it is a spell in the form of a song. If you ask a million people to give their interpretation of Led Zeppelins’ Stairway to Heaven, you will get a million different interpretations. And each one of them would be correct. For me this song evokes spirituality and all the dislikes, mockery and sarcasms seem ritualistic and dumb. This is the quintessence, one can get to absolute spirituality where there is no right or wrong only a journey to self-discovery.

I hope you will like these songs and we can always rock n roll our way through hard to handle emotions.

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