Emotions AREN’T good leaders, but they ARE good helpers…

by | Mar 14, 2023

I’ve had several leaders say to me that when they’re dealing with conflict, they IGNORE the EMOTION and only focus on the FACTS.

While I appreciate the thought process behind this idea, the reality is that to IGNORE the EMOTION usually only creates more of it, BECAUSE the emotion is trying to tell you something.

Emotions are indicators just like the engine light of a car is an indicator. The engine light is letting you know something is not right under the hood.

Emotions are letting you know something is not right under the surface. You IGNORE them to your OWN PERIL.

So rather than IGNORE them, let’s EXPLORE them.

For example, anger and frustration, or even someone checking out, is often an indicator that someone cares about something but they feel helpless to correct it.

That’s just one example, and it’s important to identify emotions in yourself and in your team members when they come up.

The bottom line is that in any conflict or tense situation, human beings want to know that they are…

–       Being heard

–       Being seen

–       What they think and feel matters

Here’s what you can do when you encounter emotion and don’t know what to do with it…

1) IDENTIFY and ACKNOWLEDGE that the emotion is there and it’s ok. (You CAN do this without condoning disrespectful behavior.)

2) Be CURIOUS and ASK QUESTIONS to understand what it is about the situation that is creating the emotion.

3) You can inquire about the possible ACTIONS or SHIFTS IN PERSPECTIVE that could be made to better support this person (or even yourself) in the situation.

EMOTIONS themselves are NOT bad.

As a leader, we don’t want to allow people’s emotions to become so volatile and disrespectful that it erodes the culture of our team. But we DO want to make space for people to be human.