We underestimate the value of Emotional Expression.
What is Emotional expression? It’s translating our thoughts for the people around us. It’s making our inner concerns, questions, thought processes, and internal jumps for joy transparent for our colleagues and people around us.
In the U.S., we spent decades telling workers that emotions had no place in the office. Quite simply, I think we were wrong. We might as well have said that people have no place in the office, because people come with emotions, so as long as people are working, they’re feeling, experiencing, and emoting as well. The degree of success or productiveness of the outcome can certainly vary depending on how practiced we are at expressing those emotions.
Teams are dynamic and generate emotional information as well. Organizations are alive and filled with highs and lows, moments of happiness, frustration, sadness, concern, overwhelm, hope – across the gamut. To ignore this information is really just bad advice and limits our abilities to learn, be compassionate, and work together in an optimal way.
Expressing our emotions doesn’t have to be tearful, stressful, or uncomfortable. What if observing a colleague express his/her emotions was… helpful? What if instead of Joe standing up and leaving the room abruptly, leaving his teammates confused and overwhelmed, scrambling to sort out what caused the problem, there was an alternative? What if Joe could share his observations in a manner that was as insightful as getting a report filled with data which could be used by his teammates to identify Joe’s concerns and make adjustments accordingly? This emotional data can be treated as a source of information that can help teams understand priorities, identify areas of concern, note obstacles, clarify opportunities and inform them about Joe’s workstyle and his objectives for the team’s performance. Having this information would be a good thing, right?
Challenge for the week: Become aware and acknowledge what emotion is present for you at any given moment. Ask yourself to share what you’re thinking. Ask your colleagues to share what they’re thinking. You can say, “Hmmm…first off, my brain says _________; but I wonder…” Unfinished, messy, maybe just a first stab at an incomplete analysis, but I will bet that these thoughts and emotions will be useful information to help teams collaborate more effectively, to help enrich dialogues toward better outcomes. And, the more we practice sharing our emotions, the better we’ll get at it, and the less uncomfortable it will become – both in and out of the office.