What role do emotions play in business?

Published 10:14 pm Friday, May 12, 2017

Many people believe that emotions have no place in the business world. However, when emotion is removed from business all you have left is numbers. While numbers are of utmost importance they don’t always tell the whole story.

There are good and healthy emotions that show the passion a person has for their job. Unhealthy or extreme emotions can make a person unproductive and leave them in an irresponsible light of others, not to be taken seriously. There is a happy medium.

Emotions shown at work can include anger, sadness, frustration, fear, happiness, jealousy, etc. Some people are better at hiding or controlling their emotions than others. 

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When emotions are in control reason is out the window. Human beings are emotional creatures. We were created that way. In general, females are seen as being more emotional than men. 

This can be used as an advantage in many situations, such as understanding, reading and responding to other people and in critical situations. 

Women demonstrate and work through their emotions through communicating with others whereas men often seek solutions on their own. There are many stereotypical ideas that women are more emotional than men but it depends on the type of emotion, how it is measured, how and where it is expressed in addition to other factors. 

A common stereotype of men is the expectation that they should not ever show their emotions and that “real men” don’ t cry or get upset. Much research has been done on the differences in the brain’s reactions to stimuli and the effects on  processing.

Emotions can be advantageous in assessing customer wants and needs, relating to others, communicating up and down in the organization. The dramatic results in a business environment with decision making, negotiations, responding to employees and customers, dealing with problems, etc. are all affected by the level of emotions the person utilizes in his or her interpersonal encounters. 

A person devoid of emotions is usually ineffective in relationship building, understanding the customer, ensuring the organization’s culture is communicated with passion to all staff members. The key is to learn from your feelings & emotions and how to use them to motivate yourself and others to a higher performance level. 

Being able to express your feelings and emotions is a strength, not a weakness. It means the person possesses a higher level of confidence and self-awareness. 

The multiple advantages of expressing your emotions leads to the motivation to take needed action and are more likely to do something about it. Expressing passion will motivate hearers and readers to respond to presentations, advertising, call for action, etc.

Any good thing can become a negative when taken to the extreme, such as oversharing, revealing confidential information, failure to be ethical in trusted roles, etc.

The ability to verbalize emotions  improves communication, enables growth, builds relationships, enhances coping with challenges, provides a sense of connectivity, reduces barriers, communicates empathy and caring. 

Open communication is the core of healthy relationships, but guard against being too emotional or open to others in an uncontrolled manner. Use emotions to build happy and healthy long term relationships.  It is most valuable in the right context with the proper audience and environment.

When inappropriate it can elicit criticism, avoidance, ridicule and manipulation. When pausing and thinking through your expressions, considering your audience, assessing the situation and formulating your communication, both verbal and non-verbal, you will reap beneficial results.

Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, knowledge and emotions. In personal, friend, family, professional relationships, encompassing healthy emotions in your interactions and communications will produce positive results.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.