I’m going to talk about the “F” word today, that vulgar term that’s still considered taboo in most civilized circles. It amuses me how perfectly acceptable it is to season your language with it as long as you’re talking about sports or cars or your in-laws. But, it seems the more public the conversation the more inappropriate using the “F” word becomes. What is this distasteful word? Feelings.
Despite all the Emotional Intelligence surveys and sensitivity training we’ve suffered through for the last decade, there’s still an awkward absence of feelings in the corporate world. The unspoken belief that professionalism and personality are mutually exclusive is alive and well.
This belief is, of course, rubbish. Every professional I’ve ever met was a person – and had been their entire life. They had thoughts and emotions and opinions and quirks and fears and dreams. Those were the things that made them interesting, special, and yes, successful.
Feelings are important. No matter how much you try to ignore or avoid feelings, the fact is, you’re leading humans. Feelings affect performance and retention – which are both linked to your bottom line.
Some people are naturals at sensing what others are feeling. For others, it takes a lot of work. My advice? Don’t make it harder than it is. If you don’t know what someone is feeling, ask them. It’s easy. Just start with, “Jim, how do you feel about…” then insert the situation, idea or issue you’re discussing.
Listen closely though; most people won’t answer your question the first time. They’ll usually respond with, “I think…” Don’t let them get away with telling you what they think. Tell them you want to know how they feel. Feelings come in simple one word answers: Frustrated. Excited. Surprised. Confused. Afraid. Relieved.
Finally, set the example. Don’t back down from letting others know how you feel. Sharing feelings at work isn’t about holding hands and singing Kumbaya with your colleagues. It’s about bringing your whole self to work and infusing your endeavors with meaning and humanity. So go ahead, you have permission. Use the “F” word today at work.
How do feelings help you do your job better?