Building Resilience, Powering Performance

Author Paul P. Parker said – “You can handle people more successfully by enlisting their feelings than by convincing their reason.”

The old way of thinking that workplaces should be cold and logical places where emotions have no place has resulted in highly dysfunctional, tense, and unhealthy workplaces. People are naturally emotional and need the opportunity to release these emotions in a safe and timely manner. Allowing employees to express their frustrations, anger, and disappointments can lead to better relationships and more energy and effort being focused on finding solutions.

Here is an excerpt that beautifully explains the power of acknowledging feelings:
One day at a local park, I ran into my friend Linda and her two grandchildren, six-year-old Josh and his ten-year-old brother, Warren. The brothers had a close relationship, apart from the usual squabbles that boys their age get into. Things were going well until Josh started crying. Between sobs he complained bitterly to his grandmother that his older brother had said something to him or done something that he did not like. Linda reacted quickly. “Josh, I know you have to cry because you feel hurt, but if it doesn’t stop in five minutes you’re going to have to go sit in the car.” I have seen many situations in which a six-year-old starts crying, so I expected a long and drawn-out episode of tears and wailing. This is often accompanied by the parent raising their voice and threatening consequences if the child does not stop. The more the parent threatens, the more the child cries. It becomes a standoff, a power struggle of sorts. Therefore, I was quite shocked to see that after a few more sobs, Josh stopped crying and muttered “okay.” This seemed quite amazing.
What special skills did Linda have that could get a six-year-old to stop crying so quickly? She simply used a basic understanding of feelings and how they affect us. There are four basic rules about feelings.
1. Feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are.
2. We are all entitled to our feelings.
3. We have no right to judge other people’s feelings and nobody has a right to judge ours.
4. We all have a strong need to have our feelings acknowledged.

Linda’s acknowledgment of Josh’s feelings resulted in his being able to let go of them easily and quickly. There was no longer any need to hang on to them. Within a few minutes, he and Warren were engaged in a game, the incident forgotten. Linda’s other message to Josh was that, while his feelings were okay and natural, there was a time to express them and a time to move on. To continue to express them after that time would not benefit him.

Our feelings do not lie. Instead of tuning out our feelings, we need to get more in touch with them. Living an authentic, rewarding, and self-fulfilling life requires that we make use of both our intellect and feelings.

A workplace with a lot of buried emotions is a dangerous place just waiting to erupt. When employees are not allowed to express themselves, their emotions get pent up and emerge in an unsavory way. Instead of concentrating on their work, employees look for opportunities to get back at their organization, their boss, or their fellow employees. Not only is this type of workplace bad for morale and the psychological well-being of those who work there, but it is also an unproductive organization.

Managers at all levels can do a great deal to demonstrate that expressing emotions is acceptable by doing so themselves. It will help their subordinates see them as being more open, real, and genuine, and trustworthy. Although they may not get their way, it is important that every employee gets their say.