Leaders Know Feelings Come First

Roughly 80% of our decisions are based on our emotional state and 20% are based on logic.

There are three reasons for leaders to know what drives decision-making: 

  1. To ensure our decisions aren’t overly influenced by emotion.
  2. Also, to extend empathy when the people we lead make emotionally-charged statements or decisions.
  3. To educate their team members, as decisions fueled by emotion can impair the team.

During corporate workshops, we have great conversations around this topic. Participants see a change in team effectiveness when they embrace this concept.

This topic has been coming up more frequently, and I’d like to expand on the conversation with my own thoughts.

Our reaction to a situation is emotional.

Reactions are emotional; responses are deliberate. Logic never happens when we are in reaction mode. Therefore, most decisions are emotional rather than logical because we don’t give ourselves time to pause and think.

James Clear sheds light on this notion in his book, Atomic Habits.

“We can only be rational and logical after we’ve been emotional. The primary mode of the brain is to feel; the secondary mode is to think. Two people can notice the same set of facts and respond very differently because they run those facts through their unique emotional filter.”

Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. Avery Publishing.

In my workshops, I use a photo of a parking lot to elicit people’s initial reactions, which sparks comments such as, “Those lazy people are annoying.” As we continue our discussion, they evolve toward, “Maybe there’s something we don’t know, and they had a good reason for leaving that cart there.” It always goes in that order.

The best customer service representatives know how to de-escalate problem situations. They find ways to get past the first emotional part of the conversation to a calmer problem-solving state. Marsha Lineahan, founder of Dialectical Behavior, calls this ideal decision-making mindset “Wise Mind.” Learn more about Wise Mind, including steps to take to achieve it, here: Wise Mind Video.

What are you doing to ensure you’re making space for reflection?

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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