Can Emotion Be Influential?

I was delivering a workshop recently when one of the participants wanted to be heard. He wanted to acknowledge the role that emotion and feelings play in influence. This was interesting, what do you think; do they enhance influence or not?

My own experience is that as I look back through the ebbs and flows of my career, my highest achievements came when I was emotionally connected to the desire, and to the End In Mind. And by emotionally connected I do not mean attached. I mean I allowed my feelings to show up.

I remember one of the first times I let my feelings show through and they saved the day. It was with Bill.  He was the PFS Director at a hospital in Texas. And he had called to terminate the company I represented, due to the way one of our people spoke to one of his people. I remember the drive over, I remember the deconstruction of the conversation and how I almost had tears in my eyes because I “knew” we could do better and I allowed my passion to show up. And if he fired us we would no longer have a client in Dallas. He gave us another chance and remains a good friend to this day 30 years later.

I have also been through periods where it did not feel “safe” to show feelings. So I kept them tucked away and made beautifully rational and logical arguments. And while the proposals “looked and sounded good,” People were not buying.  They knew somehow that I was not really invested, because my feelings were not showing up. It was Zig Zigler who said it years ago, “Selling is the transference of enthusiasm from one to another.” In other words, enthusiastic feelings are contagious. I submit that science is now demonstrating that all of our feelings are contagious

In a recent article on LinkedIn, John Smibert interviewed Ian Lowe and revealed that buyers can “feel” our intent before we even open our mouths. So if we are not connecting with our feelings and/or we think we are hiding them, the others in the room are wondering (perhaps subconsciously) what we are hiding.

By David Castillo Dominici, published on 12 November 2013

By David Castillo Dominici, published on 12 November 2013

More recently I have allowed myself to show up with my feelings accessible and the connections and the business that is being generated is measurably different. New clients, new opportunities, and new friends.

The word “safe” is key in this discussion. As I reflect on my experience, I am not sure that my decision, that it was not safe, served me. By holding back and restraining myself, I remained in a position that was unfulfilling, for everyone. I was not accessing my best self. Based on the ongoing complaints I hear from clients about unengaged employees, I wonder what role safety can play? Let’s be clear, safe does not mean you do not have to do your job. It means that if you are committed, the company and the company in turn is committed to your mutual success.

As leaders, when we can create an environment where people feel safe to show up with all of their unique skills and talents, they can then contribute even more. When people feel safe, they are operating from the front part of the brain where they are collaborative, where they are creative, and where they are connecting. When it is not safe, they can’t show up. They are operating from the fear center, the reptilian brain, where they want to run, fight, or freeze. This is NOT productive.

When leaders connect, show genuine concern, when they are forgiving and they are willing to coach to success, they get teams that are engaged.  How do you plan to connect with your team?

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