It is a dominant idea and practice that feelings and business are a bad combination. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that feelings are exponentially illegitimate and “rational” thoughts are the only basis for a business setting. Even the saying, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” implies that logic supersedes subjective feelings. Yet, humans are not entirely logical beings. In fact, most of our lives we are driven and operate subconsciously. The logical brain only runs after the event to justify the feelings produced by the set actions.
Essentially, the human experience and history is defined by emotions and storytelling – not reason and exactitude. Consequently, leaving emotions out of the equation or the decision making, judgement or interactions in the workplace is not only impossible – it’s careless. Numerous studies have revealed that emotions shape intent and human behaviour in a combination with reasoning. Across any setting, humans make simultaneous cognitive and emotional appraisals of a situation while trying to respond to it.
This is effectively the big takeaway from most of the neuroscience specific research in business settings. That cognition and emotion are handled together by the brain and that this appraisal process results in a perception of incoming intentions or motive. These findings have huge implications on employee motivation and organisational outcomes. In other words, the mind is endlessly processing thoughts and emotions to define a situation, in order to resolve on how to act. So, accepting emotions and logic as one undivided motivating human factor should be a given.
Terminating a good colleague, being assigned an unreasonable task, discounting hard work, and in general, any negatively perceived situation could leave an employee feeling worried, unhappy, frustrated or angered. These are the most negative human emotions experienced at a workplace. Whether an organisation acknowledges this or not, these emotions may elicit a sense of threat, and this may drive an employee to give less of their energy, become less generous to co-workers and even consider leaving the organisation.
Therefore, the costs of negative emotions are real and they should be appreciated. They impact the collective energy and the bottom line of a company. Being in control of the company spirit and collective emotions doesn’t mean staying indefinitely calm, apathetic or distant. It means being aware of the triggers that could drive people towards making irrational decisions that won’t benefit the organisation. Hence, emotions must be included in the balance sheet to maintain high energy levels, higher performance and higher profitability. The key points are the following:
- Normalise Emotions by accepting them
- Observe emotions as a different entity from yourself
- Stay curious and study the emotions even if they look illogical
Reason, emotion and motivation are indivisibly connected and pooled to guide on how people perceive and respond to life. Any organisation that pretends that feelings don’t matter does itself a disservice by sabotaging interpersonal communication, effectiveness, commitment, job satisfaction and results. Irrelevant of an individual’s status in the organisation, we all have the collective responsibility to acknowledge emotions, moderate the highs and lows and integrate them within the fabric of the organisation so that we can collectively act with more positive intent and awareness of the whole organism – called business.