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'Heart' at work
We’re at odds with what we want, believe and do. Emotions don't belong in the workplace, we say.
At work, the facts rule, and emotions are a distraction. People need better boundaries between their feelings and work. Emotions impact performance negatively. Emotions are sloppy and unpredictable.
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Everything we say guides us toward ignoring how we feel. There's an underlying fear that being in connection with our hearts means wallowing in sentimentality; that’s not the case.
The truth is we make emotional decisions all the time, it's simply that we justify and rationalize them with great stories and narratives about the facts.
We like to think we make complicated decisions based on rational analysis, but most of the time, we actually make an emotional decision and then invent a rational analysis to justify it. — Seth Godin
Under the surface, they drive our every decision and action.
Severing from emotions has accomplished but one thing, it's made us unskilled at recognizing, managing, and being with the discomfort they can bring.
And this leads to a more important problem.
In addition to its effect on decision-making, our lack of emotional capacity is a key issue in our struggle for dialogue (which is crucial to the success of our organizations). Daniel Goldman in Working with Emotional Intelligence shares that emotional intelligence is twice as important in organizations for superior performance compared to intellect (IQ) and expertise.
The default conversation style today is debate. The root meaning of the word debate is to beat down writes William Issacs in Dialogue. It focuses on taking a stand, defending our point of view, winning, and leaving the conversation with our confidence intact. Healthy debate has a place, but it's not enough.
In coming face-to-face with a reality we disagree with and reject, emotions rise. And with a narrow emotional range, we are at their mercy. The discomfort quickly leads to frustration, anger or rage, a loss of self-control, and a doubling down on the assumption that we are right.
These reactions come at a high cost. They limit us from any fresh thinking, they cut us off from going beyond our automatic reactions and make it impossible for us to experience anything new.
Since we cannot self-reflect during knee-jerk reactions, we are stuck idolizing old assumptions about ourselves, others and the world.
And more importantly, it limits us from connecting at a deeper level with anyone that shares different perspectives.
Some of the most innovative work we do comes not from doing better what we already do best, but from completely stepping away, redefining the problem and its parameters and discovering ingenious new solutions altogether.
When we're stuck in a debate between A or B, we fail to see the possibilities of C, D or E.
It turns out that our ability to solve our biggest problems is directly linked to our ability to engage in real dialogue.
If we want to perform highly, make better decisions and solve crucial problems, we need to get beyond debate, suspend our default assumptions, preconceptions and beliefs, and choose healthy and uncomfortable dialogue.1
But first, we must acknowledge the heart's rightful place in our organizations and businesses and its crucial importance to success. In failing to do so, we will forever be at the mercy of our traditional thinking and reactive patterns.
To do our greatest work requires our collective thinking and hearts, and without being more okay with the discomfort of emotions, we are at a loss.
Let's get 'heart' at work, and let the dialogue begin.
Sparknotion — Think Differently.