I spoke yesterday
with a rather aggressive attorney about a fairly routine matter. During
the course of the conversation he became heated as he struggled to make
his point, got flustered and ended in slamming down the phone on me.
Thankfully this behavior is rare, but it got me thinking about the role
of emotion in business. We hear a lot about following your passion, and
certainly that is intimately linked to emotion. No-one wants to work
with a Borg-like automaton, so some emotion in our work is important.
Enthusiasm and joy are infectious.
Some might say that business
should be dispassionate and purely objective. Just focus on the
destination, not the journey. And of course, there are times when we
need to be analytical and left-brained. But we are emotional by our
nature, and we spend much of our lives working. The challenge for us as
professionals is to select which emotion is the most appropriate for
each situation. We have to learn to separate stimulus from response.
emotions are very welcome in a work environment. It's when you detect
negative emotions – anger, frustration, annoyance – in yourself that
you need a mental 'red flag' to pop up. When I'm annoyed,
I can make poor decisions or do things I later may regret. It's at that
point we need to change emotional gear to select the one most
appropriate, and to avoid making a mistake or compounding a difficult
situation. Just like my 'friend' the attorney did yesterday.