February 4, 2023

Small Business Advice

Showing Emotion

Jerry Osteryoung | 9/17/2007

For many of the strategies, techniques, and decisions made in the workplace are, indeed, based on emotions and understanding emotions. However, they are not generally spoken about in emotional terms, and are played down in the definition of what makes for success.
—Phyllis Weiss Haserot

Everybody has emotions. Some, like happiness and gratefulness, are good and feel great. However, some, like anger and fear, are awful and feel so bad. We all experience emotions, but entrepreneurs have a special responsibility when it comes to showing them. Showing too much emotion can be disastrous.

We were working with an entrepreneur who had a hard time controlling his temper. He would get very angry with his employees in a variety of situations. As a result, his staff avoided him at all costs. They were reluctant to share any information with him for fear that he would level his temper at them. His employees felt no loyalty to the business or its owner, and many were looking for other jobs.

In another example, a second entrepreneur showed no feelings at all. When things were going well, she did not express any happiness with the results. As a result, her staff was frustrated because they felt as though they could never live up to her expectations or make her happy.

Finally, another entrepreneur expressed his feelings to the extreme. When he was happy and excited, the whole office felt it. However, when he was down, it was so awful that the up times could not make up for it. As a result, the staff felt as if they were riding on a giant yoyo! They knew that they could not get too excited when he was happy, because at any moment, he could turn and show his anger.

Showing emotions connotes trust as you must feel comfortable enough with the other person to share your feelings. However, excessively strong emotions can make people wary of you. Clearly, you must show your emotions, both good and bad, but extreme emotions must be moderated for the good of the company. Entrepreneurs should work to keep their emotions in balance — neither displaying emotions that are too high nor too low.

Each entrepreneur and manager must remember that their emotions are so important as they affect the morale of the entire organization. Much like an Army officer leading his troops into battle, the least bit of fear he shows manifests itself in his troops’ unwillingness to follow his directions and fight for him.

Emotions should be used to facilitate communication, but be aware that emotions can be overdone or under utilized. Analyze the way you express your emotions and make sure they are being received in the manner that you want.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at jostery@comcast.net or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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