GET REAL

Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

A reminder for the times . . . Emotions are louder than words.

I began using the phrase “Emotions are louder than words” many years ago in my work. This phrase reminds us of the importance of maintaining our composure if we want to influence others when we’re addressing a concern. If we express negative emotions, even subtly, others may focus on our “attitude” instead of what we’re saying. We trade the opportunity to be heard for the possibility of being judged and dismissed.

It doesn’t take much to shift an opportunity for a rich conversation to an altercation or a lasting covert conflict. People may stop trying to understand each other. They might avoid each other for an extended time until resolution seems unlikely. We’ve all seen this happen in the workplace.

We also may be experiencing similar dynamics over the last few weeks. Friends, family members, and fellow citizens are emotionally charged with polarized political views. And we’re finding it difficult to have healthy discussions.

If you want to be heard, minimize those loud emotions, because it’s probable that no one is hearing you above the noise. Here’s one way to do it. Write your uncensored frustrations down for your eyes only. Re-visit your writing a day later. Highlight only those areas that focus on the business case, or the mutual benefits to you and the person(s) you’re planning on talking with. Then base your discussion on the highlighted points. It’s a start anyway.

Whether you’re at work, at home with a loved one, or engaged in a political debate on line, consider this. If you’re preparing to address a concern or debate an opposing idea, focus on mutual respect and the mutual benefits of a positive outcome. Minimize your emotions and maximize your impact.
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This article was originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY on Dec 4/5, 2016.

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