What is Emotional Reasoning?

It’s something that Genos CEO Dr. Ben Palmer believes organisations need to embrace more in the workplace. Emotional Reasoning is the skill of using emotional information to help you make effective decisions. It’s one of the things that really underpins our moral compass. There’s a lot of information in feelings: feeling hungry tells you that you need to eat, mutual feelings of warmth and trust provide you with information about your level of rapport with someone.

Because of this we’re actually emotionally reasoning all the time – we’re just not aware of it. While this information is helpful every day, feelings can also get in the way of our thinking… not stopping and reflecting on the way you feel when you make decisions can mean either that emotions are in the way or also that you’re missing out on a really valuable source of information in your decision making. In leadership, for example, not thinking about the morale of your team might mean that you’re not considering how messages are landing or why a change isn’t going well, or why people are acting certain ways.

There’s a lot of information in emotions and we can use them in making effective decisions.

Our values, beliefs and needs in life shape the way we feel and sometimes those needs and desires get in the way of our decision making. Leaders need to stop and think about their actions and the impact their having on others.  It’s about considering the information in feelings, both from yourself and others when you’re making decisions. An important emotional intelligence behaviour inside and outside of the workplace.

Why Is Emotional Reasoning Important?

Feelings and emotions can contain important information that could effect a wide range of decisions at work. For example, the level of commitment colleagues demonstrate often provides insight into whether a decision is going to be supported. When people not only take facts into consideration but also this emotional information, they make more expansive, creative and well thought out decisions.

So How Can You Develop Emotional Reasoning?

Here are four ways you can start developing your emotional reasoning.

  1. Reflect on feelings when decision-making

Take some time to label the way you feel about the different aspects of the decision at hand. Ask yourself, ‘Are my feelings biasing my decision, or can the information within them contribute constructively?’. Stopping and asking yourself, what are my emotions around this, what are the emotions of others. Combine that information with other facts and data – it’s about making well-rounded decisions.

As well as reflecting on your own feelings around the decision, talk to those around you. Ask others how they feel about potential solutions to problems what their intuition and emotions are surrounding issues. It is important to remember that your decisions may impact those around you.

  1. Consider issues from multiple perspectives

Different people that will be affected by your decisions may have different values, beliefs and personality traits. It’s important to recognise these and consider the different solutions from these viewpoints. For example, identify all the stakeholders to the issue. Consider what effect the different possible solutions may have on their work, team or department and consult them for their perspective.

  1. Involve others in decisions that affect their work

Involve others in the decision-making process by brainstorming with them around the decision. When consulting others, ask open and open-probing questions to encourage conversation. Make sure to take note of any suggestions or insights given by the team too so you can reflect on them later.

Involving others in decisions that will affect their work will also make introducing solutions much easier. If people feel they had a say in the decision, they are more likely to accept them.

  1. Communicate decisions in a way that is sensitive to others’ feelings

Take some time to communicate not only your decision but the reasoning behind it. This is another time where it is important to recognise others’ values, beliefs and personalities as they may affect how people react. You should be sure to communicate decisions and rationale in ways that will best fit and connect with the personality traits of others, whether that’s just sending out an email, having a group meeting about the decision or even sitting down with people one-to-one.

This is a critical emotional intelligence skill at work and in life, especially for those in leadership positions. As a leader, you’re in a position of authority, trust and power – the quality of your decisions likely impacts a lot of other people. You need to have your eye on your moral compass and your social purpose and be aligning the decisions you make to those values and outcomes.

Do you have any more tips for developing emotional reasoning? Share them with us in the comments below!

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