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Taking the emotion out of [ … ]

March 19, 2013

drama-masksI’ve been hearing this phrase a lot at work lately: “That’s great. It really takes the emotion out of it.” or “That way, you know, you take the emotion out.”

Usually it’s in context to something everyone and their mom is arguing <cough> I mean, “passionate” about… and therefore, emotional. Yelling and disagreement is usually assumed in these situations.

As the community manager for a website where my community is actually making their living through us, well, emotion is an every day kind of thing. I get why people want to avoid it, but I don’t really see what is wrong with trying to work within emotion as opposed to without.  Ok, let me rephrase: I see what is wrong with blowing up and yelling at coworkers when something didn’t go the way you had hoped. I do, however, have a beef with the concept of removing emotion from a situation.

First, let’s define emotion.  Wikipedia is usually a decent enough place to start:

In psychology, philosophy, and their many subsets, emotion is the generic term for subjective, conscious experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. Emotion is often associated and considered reciprocally influential with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation,[citation needed] as well as influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and cortisol. Emotion is often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative.[1]

So if emotion is the driving force behind motivation, why would we want to lose that? Why not capitalize on it instead? Why not be aware of the emotion you’re expressing, and intentionally highlight the parts that will motivate someone in the way you want?

All decisions in life are motivated by emotion.  Use it to your advantage, don’t always assume it’s the bad guy.

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