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E-MOTION … what MOVES us… From the inside out, this is what drives our behavior! Everyone’s behavior!

Listen, if it sucks, it sucks. If you are upset, you are upset. If something is exciting to you, let it be exciting to you. Stop avoiding your emotions for fear of what others think of you! Your EMOTIONS help you understand WHY you do what you do!

“Nicoa, I really don’t care what others think of me!” my client said rather adamantly the other day during a discussion about his inability to move forward on a long running issue with his employee. This was the third time in 4 weeks this had been raised as a concern.“You don’t care what others think of you?” I asked. “Then why haven’t you taken care of this issue?” I added. “Because I am worried he will think I…” and he stopped. “Go on…” I encouraged. “Okay, so I guess I am afraid of what he will think. I am worried he will think I am trying to screw him over if I ask him to do something different than originally planned. He really wanted to do this project, but it just isn’t a good fit and I am worried he’ll think I don’t support him. Okay, there, I said it, I am worried and afraid of what he will think.”


So we kept going…
“ARE you trying to ‘screw him over’?” I asked. “No!” he exclaimed. “Then why are you worried he would think that if it is not your intention to screw him over?” I asked. “Well, what if he does think that?” he responded. “What if he does?” I asked. Long pause. “What would happen if he thinks that?” I continued. “Nothing. He would just think that. And not like me…I guess.” Long pause. “I guess I would just explain to him my thought process and concerns. I would hopefully help him see it from my point of view, and the point of view of the client.” “And if he doesn’t understand?” I asked. “Well, I guess not telling him isn’t an option any longer, so whether he does or he doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. I need him off this project sooner than later. I clearly can’t keep putting it off. I am actually more worried I guess of the project failing with him on it!” He reflected. “But, I don’t want to hurt him or cause him to be disappointed.”

We went on to discuss how honorable and kind he was to consider the EMOTIONS of his employee We also tapped into his values, which he hoped to align with as a leader, and as a human being, to craft an appropriate dialogue with his employee. It was his own values he was worried about not aligning with, and concern for how others perceived him and his intentions that created the block of moving forward. He cared what others thought, naturally. And that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t paralyze you and your efforts and ultimately impact your goals.

What do we want? How is what we are doing getting us what we want? If we aren’t getting what we want? Are we willing to try a different way? WHY? Why is an important question here. Why are we avoiding a decision, procrastinating on a project, ignoring our emotions around a circumstance? Why do we do what we do? What EMOTIONS are present?

Recently when participating as a coach with the NCSU McLauchlan Leadership Series , we spent time discussing a video by Simon Sinek about the WHY behind what we do. It was clear that PASSION and PURPOSE were key to anyone’s WHY. Why was my client avoiding the discussion with his employee when he already new what he wanted to do? Everything is about the EMOTION we give something. From the way we market a Company, as Simon says, to the way we influence our employees. Everything.

Not shortly after that dialogue we also reviewed everyone’s Strengthsfinder 2.0 results. Well, a LOT of EMOTIONS were described and captured with each person’s results. Phrases like “Tends to take things personally.” or “Can show emotions and wear their heart on their sleeve.” to “Becomes uncomfortable when things are out of order. Needs to control the situation.”

Someone, after reading her results, said, “I don’t like this description very much. I don’t like to be emotional. I hate it when someone says, what are you being so emotional about!?!” Another person chimed in and he said something like,“Right? Isn’t it bad to show your emotions at work?” And there was what appeared to a collective “mmm hmmm” group sound of agreement and some head nods and then we moved on.


Yep, I pretty much said that but louder, “Whoa, wait a minute y’all!” (now remember, I’m Southern with a drawl I’m pretty proud of, so I showed it off) What do y’all mean it’s not okay to be emotional at work??!? Let’s talk about that a little more! EVERYTHING is emotional at work. Here’s your chance to reflect on what drives behavior AND role model the power of emotions at work starting with yourselves! Remember, you’re the leaders – if you can’t acknowledge emotions you will be missing a key strategic element of moving your organization and it’s people forward to success!”

There was more. I feel, notice the word “FEEL“, pretty strongly that something was missing in that moment when everyone just “mmmm hmmmm” agreed. Sorta like a group think feeling in my gut. The ease in which we all initially seemed to agree without debate or dialogue really bothered me. Can you tell?

Well, they definitely noticed how I felt! LOL! I bet, no, I hope they noticed and won’t ever forget that discussion. It definitely was a passionate interaction and not just from me. And I definitely believe, and feel, it is critically important for solid, values-based leadership or I wouldn’t also be writing about it now.

Every behavior, every action, every interaction in some form or fashion is driven and instigated by an EMOTION.

Again, e-MOTION – what MOVES us!

I REALLY LOVE the work by Dan Newby and Lucy Nuñez from Unlearn Relearn, whom I recently participated with in a workshop they led in the mountains of New Mexico, where we explored EMOTIONS. A LOT of EMOTIONS! I think their summary of the complex human element of EMOTIONS is perfectly captured on their website for their module:

  • Emotions are not discretionary, we are emotional beings
  • Every emotion moves us in a unique way
  • Every emotion is offering us information and takes care of a human concern

“We are emotional beings. It is not a choice. Our tendency has often been to ignore or deny this but the reality persists. Since they are part of us what keeps us from befriending them and allowing them to help us live a good life? Our learning opens the door to what is a new world for most of us.” ~Dan Newby & Lucy Nunez

A new world indeed! We have been conditioned to ignore our hearts, push emotions deep down inside, and move only from logical, or at least we believe it to be logical, thought.

An executive client recently said to me, “I can’t deal with drama and have people crying in my office.” Really? Seriously? Well, forgive me, but if you can’t handle that, then perhaps you really aren’t meant to lead? or maybe you just don’t really want to lead? True leadership begins and ends with this “information that takes care of our “human concerns” as Dan and Lucy put it. The bad news is suppressing our natural emotions has become a part of our collective consciousness! The good news is it can be reintroduced and re-learned as a powerful tool, a natural tool!! But first we have to unlearn our conditioned behavior of avoiding being emotional as a leadership tactic…

We are all experiencing this disconnect and without acknowledgement of EMOTIONS, we will fail…big time.

Sadly, we are already failing in many organizations, and most recently evident within our political system (don’t worry y’all, I don’t know enough to write that blog, but I sure would like to! #dontforgettovote)! I truly believe it will require opening and validating EMOTIONS and EMOTIONAL LEADERSHIP as a powerful and strategic driver and leadership skill to rebalance this imbalance of working from only our heads and not engaging our hearts in the workplace. The dynamics of this disconnect of head and heart, I believe, is the key root cause of the increase in low morale, high turnover, increased medical costs and the overall lack of true engagement between leadership and their employees and employees and their work bar none.

There is not one coaching dialogue I have ever had with my executive clients that didn’t begin and end with emotions. It says a lot when the coaching industry has increased to accomodate the need for a safe third party dialogue where you are allowed to “be yourself” without fear of repercussion or misunderstanding. Look, another EMOTION.

So let’s STOP with the “Emotions in the workplace are unacceptable” dialogues and consider role modeling the power of EMOTIONS from where you are in the workplace today, now. Let’s work together to make it okay to be emotional when we feel emotional! Have faith and trust that the results will far outweigh your worst fears about “what people will think of you” but instead will validate our highest hopes of perceived ideal, strong and powerful leadership! You will find that EMOTIONAL leadership may be the most powerful and strategic place you can find yourself as a leader and as a human being. Just BE you.

So, now you know what I think, but what do YOU think about being EMOTIONAL in the workplace?

Emotionally Yours,

“Life By Design. I Love Mine.” … and you can, too!
plain talk, values based partnering

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