I’ve been feeling quite emotional lately. There’s no intended positive or negative connotation to that statement, just an acknowledgement on my part that my emotional response to various situations seems fuller. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. It could be the result of a concerted effort on my part to be more present as I go though my day or it could be down to a shift in the seasons and a change in atmospheric pressure! Who knows?! What I find fascinating however is how this increased emotional resonance has impacted the way I communicate. It’s made me more connected, more expansive and more committed to my message.
Many of the clients that I train and coach are very reluctant to bring emotion into their communication. They are afraid that others will judge them or that they will “lose control”. We tend to think of emotion as something to be kept out of the work place but in reality without it we disconnect. We seem to want to separate our emotional life from our work life by intellectualising our experiences rather than allowing them to live and breathe. We button ourselves up, keep the lid on the pressure cooker and maintain a stiff upper lip, all in the name of appearing “professional”. We are just as wary of appearing too happy as we are of letting our frustrations boil over. And yet we cannot truly influence others if we are unable to move them and take them on a journey. Without emotion it is almost impossible to create a connection so how do we strike a balance? I think there are three keys:
1. Self disclosure
There’s a difference between being emotional and having emotional intelligence. Whilst being overly emotional in the workplace might be deemed as undesirable or inappropriate, displaying emotional intelligence certainly isn’t. Self disclosure allows us to connect with others on a human level, to engage hearts and minds. You don’t have to reveal all of the skeletons in the cupboard or reduce your audience to tears, you simply need to be willing to let others see a little bit of who you are. Take time to demonstrate empathy and make the connection between your own experience and that of your audience.
2. Sensory language
The pen is mightier than the sword and the words you choose, whether written or spoken, have the power to transform the experience of others. As human beings our ability to imagine is what differentiates us from other species. It’s what has allowed us to develop and grow. Every manmade object you have ever come into contact with was first the product of the imagination, an idea given form inside someone else’s mind. As communicators we have the power to help others create a new reality. The words we choose can help them to engage their senses, to see the future, to hear both sides of the story, to taste victory, to feel involved and to smell success. The more sensory the language we use the more our audience will engage their imaginations and tap into their emotions.
As Shakespeare wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit” and keeping things brief allows you to engage your audience without overwhelming them. Emotion takes energy to deliver but also to receive. When there is too much emotion in your message you can leave your audience feeling drained. Whilst watching a weepy movie or listening to an emotional album at home can be cathartic, too much emotion in the work place can feel exhausting. The best communicators know when to tap into it and how to focus it so that it serves its purpose. Craft your message so that it lands with impact and leaves your audience wanting more.
Allowing your emotions to be reflected in your communication definitely requires courage but with vulnerability comes power. Next time you feel the impulse, use the three keys above to channel your emotion into your message and I guarantee that your audience will see you in a new and compelling light.