Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it. ~Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
It has been a long practice of management to neglect emotions and feelings as a core element of human relationships. The entire philosophy of project management is based on linear, rational thinking only. However, brain science has shown that none of our thoughts is free of emotions, and that our brain is unable to objectively perceive the world around us. Unconscious neurological processes that constantly mix emotions with what we perceive as facts are part of any human reasoning and decision making. While we can try to master our conscious feelings, we cannot isolate our reasoning from unconscious emotions. So, love it or leave it: no human interaction without emotions. There is not a clear categorization of emotions: some of them are very archetypal reactions to threat or or stimuli, moderated by the Amygdala, an old part of our brain. The response on such, often stressful, stimuli is usually either fight - flee - freeze or appease. Other emotions are preduced in more recent parts of the brain such as the cortex, and often more complex than then basic survival reactions. But in any case, we can only master the influence of emotions to our work if we realize them and acknowledge that a significant part of our behaviour is not rooted in rational thinkig alone but paired with emotions. The crux however is that we much better in detecting emotions in others than in ourselves...
On the other side, emotions are a big driver - they can motivate people more than anything else. Passion, pride, joy is what let people get up in the morning and start their work happily.
And finally, we collect more and more evidence that emotions are integral to decision-making
In the following video, Antonio Damasio, noted researcher and professor of neuroscience at USC, discusses his experiences working with people with brain damage who are unable to decide things as simple as where to go to dinner. What does that mean for business.
Questions for Deeper Exploration
How do we talk about emotions in our meetings and encounters?
How do we deal with our own / others' emotional reactions?
What mechanisms, rituals and standards do we have to deal with emotional injuries?