Emotional versus Emotion

When I started my business 10 years ago now, I learned some huge lessons as to how to control my emotions; most of which I failed in! Being emotionally and financially invested in the success of HR Heads meant that everything mattered, and I am not ashamed to say I cried in front of my backers on more than one occasion. I am sure this didn’t do much to confirm the confidence they had in me and subsequently I committed to myself that I wouldn’t cry or show emotion moving forwards.

Business is something that is continually talked about as being separate from emotion; ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business.’  Successful leaders are held up to be strong, dispassionate and clear thinkers, rational in their thought process and able to detach the people issue from a situation.

And yet, HR is the people’s business, simply put we are dealing with people.  Yes, the people are delivering the organisational goals; yes, they are often the most expensive resource a business has, and key people can be the ‘make or break’ of an organisation’s success. 

But are successful leaders really void of all emotion? And if so, does this make them the best they can possibly be?  I believe there is a middle ground and we should not have to be cold about business. Amy Golding (CEO of Opus Talent Solutions) was featured in the Sunday Times (24/02/19) and believes there is a big difference between getting emotional and being able to have emotion in the workplace and I agree with her.

When hiring senior HR professionals, there is significant emphasis placed on an individual’s emotional intelligence.  Many of the psychometric tools assess a person’s emotional intelligence, agility and nimbleness in dealing with different people in different situations.  We talk within HR Heads of shifting relationships from the IQ (knowledge and factually based) to the EQ (personally based) and find that business is more successful when we operate in the EQ space.

This emotional intelligence can be your USP. People respond positively to passion and buy in to things you feel strongly about. It is key to how you take people on your journey as a leader and build engagement. Showing emotion can therefore be a very powerful tool.

Being emotional however, is a very different thing.  Often this emotion materialises as an outburst in a confrontation situation. Human nature means we react in a fight or flight manner. The key here is how you manage the situation and regain control.  By excusing yourself to regain your composure and then coming straight back to verbalise your thoughts, you can buy yourself time to think how you verbalise your frustration and address the matter.

What is fundamental, is that you don’t bury your emotions and shy away from confrontation. As HR professionals we must give and receive difficult messages as a regular part of our role. Being prepared and pre-empting situations will give you time to mentally work through the different ways a conversation might play out and this will remove some of the shock.

Jen Gaster

Founder and Director of HR Heads. Passionate about the innovative and successful recruitment of HR talent and creating strong, lasting networks built on trusted relationships. Industry specialist for the Hampshire region.
Connect with me on LinkedIn here