Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Emotions are louder than words

Feeling angry, upset, or frustrated about an issue or interaction at work? Thinking about addressing it directly? Great idea—but you may want to exercise a bit of caution.

Your body language, facial expressions (however subtle) and tone are telling factors if you’re feeling emotional. And if your goal is to be heard, you may want to consider that emotions are louder than words.

When you’re upset while delivering your message—regardless of how valid or worthy of consideration your message might be—you run the risk of the receiver focusing on your reactions, instead of what you’re saying.

So if you decide to address that concern, you may want to do your best to shed the emotion first. Although not easy, focusing on the business impact of your concerns, versus the emotions you’re experiencing in reaction to them, will maximize your impact.



  Jonna L. Martin wrote @

This is such a great point! The tough part is getting yourself into a calm place before reacting….remember the old saying about counting to 10 before responding. Our grandparents were really onto something. Intellectually it is so easy to understand, and yet to put it into practice takes just that… practice.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Thanks for your comment Jonna. You’re right. The tough part is HOW to shed our emotions. One quick tool that may help is dumping your feelings into a document without censoring them. This draft may include cursing and plenty of needed venting, but it’s for your eyes only. (I highly recommend this not be done anywhere near your work systems!) Write it and put it aside for at least 24 hours. When you revisit it, highlight ONLY the business issues, and none of the emotional reflections. This may at least offer a start on what you might focus on in your discussion—the business impact.

  Roberta Favitta wrote @

Your advice is so apropos to my situation today. I need to deliver a message to an employee with a very defensive personality and I am feeling all coiled up inside. It is a little after 5am and I have been role playing in my mind since 3. Funny how things work…I went to check emails and my Linked in and saw your Blog post…the first I’ve read and the first of many I will follow from now on. I thank you!

  Donna Rawady wrote @

Thanks for your comment Roberta. Glad the info came at a good time for you. Hope it helped and that it went well.

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