Welcome back! This week we continue our emotional intelligence series by focusing on emotional reasoning, the fourth component in the Genos Model of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional reasoning is everything in business. How we get people to do something and connect with what we are asking them to do makes all the difference. Reasoning is about using the emotional information we have when decision-making.
Feelings and emotions contain important information. For example, the level of commitment colleagues demonstrate often provides insight into whether a decision is going to be supported; the emotional appeal of products and services often provides insight into selling and marketing messages.
When this type of emotional information is combined with facts and technical information, people make expansive, creative and well thought-out decisions. Conversely, people who do not use emotional information and focus on facts or technical information only tend to be limited in their decision-making.
Leena sorted through the files on her desk. It had been a coup to win the tender. No one thought she could pull it off, and yet she had. Since then, though, things hadn’t been going well. It didn’t make sense. Leena applied everything she’d learned at her business school. She had outlined processes and procedures. She had twice weekly meetings without fail. She was invariably enthusiastic. And her team was great. However, lately, she noticed a slump in activity. And there was a big deadline fast approaching.
Leena tried to concentrate on a spreadsheet, but there was laughter in the corridor. Scowling, she rose and shut the door loudly. The laughter stopped abruptly followed by hurried footsteps. A few minutes later, there was a quiet knock. Sarah, her communications coordinator, entered. After a little small talk, she mentioned that she wanted to take a leave of absence for several weeks.
Leena felt the panic rise. This was the worst possible moment to consider a smaller team. Sarah picked up on this.
“I know it’s inconvenient, but it’s the only time my husband can get off. We’ve been planning this trip for a while.”
“It’s more than inconvenient. It’s going to affect everyone on the team. We’re not going to be able to bring someone new up to speed. It could even threaten the project delivery. No, sorry. What you’re asking is impossible.”
Sarah stood and said, “Well, then, I can’t work here anymore.”
What went wrong?
Emotions can have a significant effect on the way we think, decide, and solve problems. Because emotions are part of being human and don’t disappear when we turn up to work, it’s something that can work against us if we don’t find ways to make them work for us.
Leena was dealing with the fallout of not having found a way to get her team to buy in to the project from the beginning. She concentrated on what they were doing and how they needed to do it, without communicating why it was significant and why it would make a difference. She supplied elaborate processes and procedures and then she micromanaged her team, which led the to feeling less and less engaged. Often they went off in different directions and not much was getting accomplished. Leena took too much on herself, which had the effect of stressing her out and making her difficult to work with.
Because she was managing rather than leading, her team waited for her to tell them what to do without feeling they could take initiative. Had Sarah felt more intrinsically engaged and that her participation mattered, she would have been less likely to consider a holiday a possibility — she would have felt too valuable to the project’s outcome.
What should be done?
- If you’re able to effectively and passionately define your cause, you’ll attract people who are equally dedicated to it. However, it’s not enough to explain what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it, you also need to be able to define why it’s important. If you do this well, you will not only inspire your team, but you will be able to inspire other stakeholders.
- After defining and communicating the ‘why’ of your mission, a strong team needs to be aligned and buy into a single direction, which is best described as how things are done. Written or verbal processes need to be adopted and followed consistently. But don’t overdo it. Having too many overwhelming procedures is actually less efficient.
- If you’re a small startup or just a small company, ask yourself: do you have unnecessary red tape? If so, cut it. You also need to develop open channels of communication. If you don’t have people challenging the way things are done, if you are stifling creativity and inventiveness and if you are not allowing dissent, then you’re not going to have an engaged team. People feel both more valuable and more dedicated if they are free to share their ideas and opinions.
- Finally, set targets and goals in small quantities that are attainable and not overwhelming. And don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments — both large and small.
How can you include and instill emotional reasoning at work?
1. Inspire action
2. Drive team alignment
3. Cut out the unnecessary ‘red tape’
4. Welcome candid but constructive feedback
5. Keep communication constant, open, and centralised
6. Pace your team and celebrate wins
Ignoring the role emotions play in how we interact at work can lead to stress misunderstanding, and a lack of focus. Accepting that emotions are involved in everything we do and finding ways to use them to strengthen commitment will contribute to the success of a project. It’s a no-brainer!
A core requirement for success is understanding and communicating your ‘why’. For an interesting explanation of this, watch the following TEDTalk by Simon Sinek: