HR & Management

When is it good to allow emotions guide your decisions?

4 min read

19 March 2015

Taking the "stiff upper lip" approach out of business and allowing a little sentiment can help strengthen business relationships. It can also build trust for lasting partnerships between a business and its customers, or an employer and its employees.

Some owners or leaders may believe that emotion in a business can be a bad thing; something that could get in the way of sound and objective decision making. 

Conversely, I believe that emotion lies at the heart of the best decisions and is imperative for everything from employee engagement and motivation, driving innovation and building customer relationships that will stand the test of time. 

Without emotion there would be no passion and attempting to drive business without passion is doomed for failure.

Of course, there are times when emotion must be taken out of the equation in a decision that needs to be ruled by the head over the heart. 

So how can you employ the emotions barometer to ensure the pendulum swings in the right direction at the right time?

Engaging, retaining, motivating

Having employees on side and working with, rather than against you, will enhance business operations, customer service and growth. Employees like emotion; from passionate leadership that makes them feel that their best interests are at heart to inspiring and empowering them, emotion will always win out.

Sound customer/supplier relations

A good customer relationship is built on emotions. Buyers are predominantly influenced by their emotions, a fact which is demonstrated by the power of loyalty and advocacy. Showing a human side helps greatly with a customer relationship and trust is one of the most important elements, which in itself is an emotion.

Tackle negativity

Sometimes this can manifest itself in a way that is undesirable to the business and in this instance, an emotional approach is needed. To try and stamp out or ignore negativity will allow it to thrive and it will inevitably erupt at some point, being potentially more detrimental to the business. Turning the situation around into a positive will often require a human approach; negativity can be powerful, but turned around it can be positively powerful.

Driving innovation

Innovation and creativity is at the heart of every business and what all business leaders strive to achieve. Allowing emotion to drive innovation is a truly positive step in business growth.

Read more about the role of emotions in business:

How to keep cool when others are losing their heads

Are emotions a taboo in business?

You mad? 5 things you need to know about angry employees

Hiring new talent

There’s a lot to be said for going with your gut and instinct when it comes to people, so feel free to be emotional.

Difficult decision making

This is where the emotions might be best left at the door. In the event of tough decisions that involve, for instance, cutting staff numbers or business functions for the sake of the business’s future and growth, decisions need to be made on facts, figures and realism.

In a career spanning more than 30 years and in turning around four loss-making businesses into multi-million pound profit generators, I’ve had my fair share of emotion in all senses of the word. 

I’ve used it to form the basis of great customer relationships and to motivate staff – even to tackle customers emotional with rage. Without it, business would be very dull and a lot less successful!

Richard Close is a business turnaround specialist.