To be emotional, or not to be emotional? That is the question

As you can see, not everyone appreciates tears!

Boehner Gets Weepy on 60 Minutes

In my organizational behavior class, we discussed the above video showing Representative John Boehner’s use of tears in public speaking. The majority of my class expressed negative opinions about this practice, saying that it showed weakness and didn’t really have a place in politics. One classmate compared crying in politics to crying in business, saying that it would be inappropriate to cry in the boardroom.

After leaving class, this question couldn’t leave my mind: Is the use of emotions appropriate in politics and the business world?

The first way I approached this question was in the field of politics. I first watched this video in my business communications class last semester, and I thought Boehner’s blatant showing of emotions lost him credibility. However, upon seeing this video a second time, I’m starting to see where Boehner is coming from. Although I am not necessarily a fan of tears or politicians proponing tears when trying to appeal to their audience; I do appreciated the showing of Boehner’s seemingly genuine emotion. With responsibilities such as passing legislation regarding abortion and stem cell research, declaring war and dispatching our soldiers, isn’t it nice that our leaders are taking their decisions to heart? If my congressman was discussing these issues in an objective, non-emotional tone, I would interpret the decision as cold and calculating with little regard of the consequences to constituents.

I also feel using emotion can be a powerful tool in shaping the future of politics in our country. One of the biggest issues I learned about in my US Government class was a lack of participation and political efficacy on the part of our citizens. Could it be because the majority of Americans are not emotionally involved with issues facing our government? The use of emotions in politics could get more Americans emotionally involved in political issues, and change the nature of the American culture of skepticism towards government and its ability.

Emotional political appeals have destroyed and created nations throughout world history. The US was founded upon an emotional political outrage with the British government. Our country has a history of combining emotion and politics, but it seems to have given way to the ideal of “purely rational thought.”  This ideal carries over into the business world as well. Corporate executives are expected to be stoic and unwavering in times of crisis, and project a rational and stable image. However, I feel ignoring and avoiding emotions is highly impractical because emotions will always factor into an individual’s decision making process.

Bruce Wilson said in his article Emotion Savvy Communication,

“Because emotions are integrally linked to decision making, they are a key component of communication. But because the role of emotions is poorly understood, and “purely rational thought” has long been the ideal within science, economics, and other influential schools of thought, emotions are often ignored, avoided or mishandled even while they are playing a pivotal role in business decisions.”

It seems like so many people say that the let their emotions “get in the way” when making a decision. But, as Jen Grisanti explores in her article Emotions and Business, what if we can learn to use our emotions to  pave the way, rather than getting in the way? Every decision we face presents us with the opportunity to become the people we most want to be, and acting on our emotions can help lead us there.  There might not be room for tears in the realm of politics and business, but I think emotions can have a positive influence everywhere.

To conclude, I would like to provide an insightful quote regarding emotional intelligence from David Caruso:

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”

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