If business is rational…what’s this emotions nonsense?

Scripture of the Week – Proverbs 16:32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city”

Emotions are part of what makes people who they are. However, many times, those of us who are better at controlling our emotions – or in many cases, just practiced at ignoring them – are confused when they show up in unexpected places like business. People seem to get offended and bent out of shape for all sorts of irrational reasons. 

Once we accept the reality of emotions and their potentially uncontrollable nature, we can focus on what it means to harness them for good. This applies to business, family, and community. 

Here are some stories and lessons learned for you to consider: 

Lesson 1: People desire purpose and act irrationally to find it. One time, Josh (The Consultant) was appointed President of a Homeowner’s Association. Much to his dismay, his time in leadership was spent facilitating conflict resolution between the HOA members and between the HOA and a neighboring property. Long story short, several seemingly minor issues (e.g. parking) constantly flared up into huge disagreements. It became clear the repeat offenders were unfortunately individuals who were at a place in life with little left to do but find reasons to argue. Their children were grown and gone. They did not have other community investments of their time, talent or treasure. 

Lesson learned? They were seeking purpose. People want purpose so badly, they will emotionally act out and irrationally grasp for the slightest bit of purpose they can find so when you come across someone overly emotional or acting irrational – examine purpose. How is any particular situation threatening or diminishing a person’s purpose? Then, when opportunity presents, help that person find purpose in something more lasting.

Lesson 2: Family business is messy because people care about each other. Emotions are not bad but after several experiences with family-run businesses, there’s a reason they have a reputation for dysfunction. However, at the core, this is a good thing because it means the people within the business care deeply for each other and are invested in each other’s lives outside of work. 

How do we harness the benefits of passion for each other but leave the dysfunction at the door? In both coaching and consulting, we have worked with several business owners, leaders, etc by teaching them how to better communicate with each other and hold each other accountable to transparent, acceptable results. This helps these family run businesses attack shared goals together and learn to have functional conversations about issues without it becoming personal or always ruining the family event coming at the lake in two weeks.

Lesson 3: The hardest part of all this is self-examination. How do you respond emotionally to situations in the workplace? By more deeply understanding yourself and your own triggers, you can begin to understand how to respond in a more healthy way to the emotions of others. Josh (The Consultant) spent quite a bit of time with a counselor/coach unpacking several emotional experiences from childhood through his work life to discover some specific learned responses to situations and why they happen. 

Lesson Learned: Slow down. We will encounter on a daily basis several opportunities to lash out or resort to our juvenile selves when we may have had emotional needs which went unmet. Or just poor habits built up from years and years in unhealthy work environments. Examine how your emotional response to various dysfunctional environments has actually contributed to the problems. Then begin to work upstream to understand the triggers and be on the lookout for these in the future. 

What are some ways The Consultant and The Coach help their clients deal with emotions? Here are some insider tips:

The Consultant

  • When making decisions for your company, consider the rational decision (sans emotions) and then map the impact of these decisions to various stakeholders and potential emotions they may feel.
  • When you make these decisions which make rational sense, how have you formally planned and executed a change management plan for the impacted stakeholders? 
  • In any particularly tense scenario, don’t be afraid to identify the emotions of fear or anxiety coming from a real or perceived loss of power, purpose or identity. This is likely why people may be feeling threatened to the point of lashing out emotionally/irrationally. Help them re-direct their feelings. 

The Coach

  • Humility is the beginning of function – a Coach can help you and your teams identify places where humility is needed instead of ego, selfishness or vanity. 
  • Create a personal development plan for you and each of your leaders including an assessment of their strengths and background which may help discover learned behaviors which are not always functional for the workplace

Thanks everyone! We hope this gives you some lessons for how to use emotions to make your business even better.

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