My first response to information is not always the response I end with. I am a slow and deep processor. When I am presented with information that challenges me it takes me a minimum of 24 hours to find a mature emotional response that I am comfortable presenting to the world. Within that first 24 hours - watch out!
In business we are constantly negotiating our emotions, deciding which to express and which to depress. A respected mentor said to me last week, “It’s not that we want to steer clear of being emotional in business, it’s just that we want to have mature emotions - healthy emotions - in business.”
So just what is a mature emotion in business?
Yesterday around 2pm I received a message from my boss, the director, implying that he was considering withholding a benefit from me given to all other staff on their one-year anniversary.
My first response was feeling anger. My next response was feeling excluded. Following exclusion I felt self-righteous and defensive. I can safely say that 17 hours later, I am having a whole new arsenal of responses. Steadiness. Curiosity. Opportunity. Compassion.
What I know today (and what I knew yesterday as well when I was feeling angry, excluded, self-righteous and defensive) is that my boss is new and has inherited a very sticky financial situation. He doesn’t have deep finance or HR experience and so is on a steep learning curve. He’s made mistakes in his first two months and he’ll probably make more. One of those mistakes is implying that he might not fairly apply benefits to all staff. I’ll continue making mistakes too. One of those mistakes is jumping to conclusions from an email one-liner. It’s not personal; he’s just gathering information.
There’s no room for taking things personally in business. Being emotionally mature means being responsible for my own self-worth (working in a way I am proud of and acknowledging myself when I’ve done a good job), actively participating in conversations on the table, and detaching myself from outcomes. It also helps to simplify. In the case above my boss asked me a very straight-forward question - are these changes to your benefits included in the budget - to which I can simply reply - yes - and move on with my day.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!