Currently, the “Brexit” is haunting all media and also the American president is increasingly causing head shaking with his sometimes bizarre statements.
In a world where information and facts are available to everyone and it is no longer a matter of collecting them but of critically reviewing and selecting them, there is one crucial component that is gaining more and more influence: emotional power.
Thus, it is not mere statistics and figures on export balances or migration data that influence people, but emotional messages and often also stoked fears that tip the scales.
This raises the question of whether emotional manipulation or blackmail can also have an opposite effect. The negative connotation stems from the fact that people who are subject to emotional manipulation can no longer make objective judgments about an issue. Their perception is deliberately clouded in the sense of the manipulator and the objective truth is distorted.
However, what happens when emotional influence serves to strengthen connectedness and can thus bring about something positive?
From manipulation to emotional participation
Let’s take a company that has been struggling with high turnover and lack of motivation among its employees for several years.
The task now is to convince these same employees to make new changes in favor of the corporate culture and to create new structures.
Instead of starting the “persuasion speech” by saying that the management level has thought about changes (often also called change processes) and that these now have to be implemented step by step by the workforce, one could make use of the selective and analytical characteristics of people, which are applied when absorbing information.
Employees should be encouraged in their attributes and goals, opportunities must be opened up to them through the changes, and most importantly, they must be allowed to shape a significant part of the process themselves and not just be part of the implementation. It is easier to help shape a project instead of just presenting it, since the character of identification is completely missing here.
While the management level sets the framework or boundaries, the employees have the opportunity to help shape the processes within them.
Emotions beat facts
Shared experiences and focus on a common goal lead to the synchronization of emotions. Here it is important not to bombard employees with facts and present them with mere figures that have to be met. It’s about telling “stories” that connect. We already know from neuroscience that the amygdala, the brain region in which our emotions are processed and also transmitted to the hyppocampus at lightning speed, is addressed more quickly by feelings than by facts. The memories stored in the hyppocampus are solidified within seconds and are difficult to replace with pure factual knowledge afterwards.
Accordingly, you can only score points with data and facts if you have also “picked up” the people you are addressing on an emotional level. Although this should be clear by now, it is often not practiced in depth in companies.
Strengthen your employees with the help of emotions
In workshops dealing with change processes as well as joint approaches to solutions, I often discover the “factual communication” that has been lingering on the surface for decades and seems to be firmly established.
A successful company consists of more than business management evaluations or production figures. Motivated, satisfied employees and emotional participation are the key. Here it is important not to compulsively want to change their minds, as this results in resistance and emotional powerlessness. It makes more sense to take away their fear of losing their identity, to strengthen the core of their personality as well as their loyalty to the company.
Emotional Business as a firm company credo
With these 6 steps you establish the “Emotional Business” as part of your business and communication culture:
- As a first step, find arguments that do not compete with those of the “other side.” If, for example, important company goals have to be met in the short term, the solution is not to work any more (the counter-argument of the employees here is therefore: We have enough to do after all). Instead, it would be conceivable to explain the situation and involve the employees in finding a solution without emotional blackmail.
- If there is too much work, it should not simply be “offloaded” onto individual employees. Instead, it should be specifically asked whether a person has capacity and can support. It is also advisable to set up a small project group that concentrates on the work for a fixed period of time, but is relieved in other areas.
- Benefit transfer: Instead of simply introducing new regulations, engage in conversation with employees and include their wishes and needs as part of the regulations.
- Win over your employees as sparring partners. Ask specifically how they would handle a problem. You should always keep one thing in mind: a satisfied employee is more likely to stand by you even in difficult times than the one who could never see himself/herself as part of the process and development.
- Always go for thoughts that connect and are constructive. So, if a salary increase is financially difficult right now, approach your employee transparently in other ways and strengthen his/her attitude in other ways. You can find concrete tips on this in my article “Employer branding – employee loyalty made easy“.
- Always use non-violent communication towards your employees. Sayings such as “We have numbers to meet and cannot take into account the sensitivities of individuals” are not exactly motivating. Address your listener’s resistance, take it seriously, and voice your understanding. Following the presentation of the factual situation (here still without emotional undertone), go to step four. Ask for concrete action strategies from your employees and also win advocates for your ideas.
How do you assess the effect of emotional arguments? Have you already had experience with “emotional business” or with a culture of “pure facts”?
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.