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  • Jigsaw Kirby

Emotions and Work

I feel like I was brought up with the understanding that emotions have no place at work. I chose a career in commercial real estate, in large part, because I wanted to avoid the “emotions” of residential. And to some extent there may be more “emotional” sales in residential, but that is not the whole story.

Almost a decade ago I started studying how people work within organizations. I even got a masters in Human Dimensions of Organizations. We studied how Organizations are led how decisions are made, and what is culture and how does it get created, among many other cool and interesting topics (okay, I’ll own my bias). There is one thing that kept coming through consistently and that is that we are human.

It seems obvious but this realization was and continues to amaze me. WE ARE HUMAN. We are brilliant, flawed, and super duper complex. Why so complex… yep, emotions. Emotions drive commitment and belonging. They drive trust and motivation. Emotions allow us to rationalize, and therefore deal with, the world around us. Our emotions contribute deeply to our judgements.

How much harder will you work for a boss you like? Perhaps you want to please them so you work late or prioritize differently -emotions. How about the opposite? Ever get hired because someone decided to give you a break? -emotions. Buy from one vendor over another because the sales guy was more “professional” or you trusted him more? -emotions. Emotions influence your reviews and promotions, how effective you are as a leader, and whether you find yourself comfortable in an organization’s culture- all emotion.

So the idea that emotions have no place in worklife is a total fallacy.

This is why I teach Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I teach professionals to recognize their own emotions and strengths. What they can do, will do, and over-do. I start with self awareness which allows them to understand what requires extra effort and what strengths they can rely upon and is the first and most important part of Emotional Intelligence(EQ).

What does this have to do with emotions? If we can predict, we can prepare. When I am aware of and embrace my potential blind spots, they won’t surprise me. I can prepare or bring in talent to fill that void. Likewise when I know I have a strength I can rely upon, I have more confidence around that situation. Once we understand how we “operate” emotionally, we start to see it in others. Most humans, once they spend time really looking at themselves, can better relate to others. It’s the beginning of empathy… and if not empathy, understanding.

It goes further. Understanding our emotional situation can keep us calmer, meaning we deal with others better, make decisions from a more rational place, and, in a perfect world, be open to hearing the views of others who have strengths in places we might not.

Simon Sinek is most often credited with the phrase “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business”. While I have no idea if this is truly his original thought, it could not be more true. Learn about yourself to learn about others. Understanding others allows you to align operations, product, and market for optimum success.


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