I was talking to someone recently and they asked me that often dreaded question of “so what do you do then?”
The whole idea of an ‘elevator pitch’ grates me a little and yet I do see the practical elements that can be of use. (David Goddin also wrote a blog post about the ‘what do you do?’ question and you can read it here)
In my best succinct response I said “I specialise in emotions and their impact on people and performance.” Feeling quite proud of my 11 word response I was met with a reply that triggered an emotional response in me, the emotion in particular was anger, only mild anger, maybe more frustration and triggered all the same.
So, what was said that got my ‘hackles up’ and triggered this wonderful orchestra of mental and physiological changes that we call an emotion. It was:
“Oh, so you do the soft and fluffy stuff then!” *followed by a short giggle*
Bearing in mind I am painting myself as someone that specialises in emotions it is good that a) I already aware that this is a trigger of mine and b) that I can manage my responses to choose an action that will harness the emotion in a productive (rather than destructive) way.
One thing that is really important to me is taking every opportunity to increase awareness of emotions in general and/or their impacts on individuals. So I decided to seize this opportunity while it presented itself. I decided to go for the anthropological angle to begin with.
It is commonly said that there are 3 principal drivers for the human species:
1) To survive 2) To eat 3) To reproduce
Confirming that this is something he was familiar with I said that it is interesting that the 3 drivers of our species can (and regularly are) trumped by emotion. Met by a confused face I decided to elaborate:
- The will to survive can be overcome by extreme sadness or despair and end in suicide.
- The drive to reproduce can be paralysed by fear meaning little or no intimacy.
- If we perceive the food presented to us to be disgusting we will starve instead of eating it.
There are many more possible examples and yet all three of these show how emotion can be more powerful. To me, emotions are the exact opposite of soft and fluffy.
I went on to explain that if this is the impact emotions can have on our primal motives what about more day to day stuff like our relationships at home, or at work? That is where I help those I work with.
Increased awareness + strategies to manage responses = better choices and improved performance
Maybe I should say that instead next time?
What are your thoughts on emotions?
How do you see, hear or feel them affecting you?