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#WFH: What’s Emotion Got to Do With It?

How we communicate in the virtual world can have a huge impact on our success, particularly if our mission is to persuade, which is often the case for leaders, teachers, trainers, sales people and managers. Part of learning to communicate effectively in a virtual environment is training ourselves to really care about the other person. We are sometimes too interested in delivering our message and not willing to really hear the other point of view. We give little or no acknowledgment for their side of the story be-fore we proceed to tell them ours. Our first approach is usually to reason with them. If that doesn’t work, we go on the attack. We turn to attack talk because we are frustrated. In a F2F environment people are not always easy to deal with. They come in many different varieties. When getting what we want is threatened we be-come defensive. Some of us are aggressive, some passive and some passive aggressive. We all use some of these tactics some of the time. When a rational approach isn’t working to get our needs met, we revert to an emotional one.

We get especially frustrated when an issue has been going on for a while. If we have tried before to make progress and don’t seem to be making progress this contributes to even more frustration. A persistent problem increases our resistance. This can often lead to even more attempts on our part to control the conversation. We attempt to play hard ball when our more rational and positive tactics have not gotten us the results we wanted. We put ourselves in a position of competing for control. We often resort to the fight or flight response. Many of these approaches originate in our subconscious but most importantly they can make people feel badly and they hardly ever work. Often these are emotion-al attacks and usually they are negative. Depending on how desperate we are, we may resort to name calling or labeling, villainizing or demoralizing: “You are an idiot.”

Emotions are a part of who and what we are as human beings. We learn to use them from the time we are babies to get our needs met. When we are unhappy, we cry. When we are really unhappy, we cry louder. As we grow from children into adults, we either learn to manage our emotions or our emotions manage us. We learn early on that we can sometimes get our own way by walking away from the conversation, slamming our fists and leaving. It takes practice not to revert to that childlike reaction when our needs are not being met. Many of us have a reactive need to be right. Sometimes that need is so strong that it keeps us from addressing the problem. The question becomes: “Do you want to be right or do you want to solve the problem?” In order to decide, we make inferences. Inferences in the F2F world are often based on observation. In the virtual world, we make inferences based more on instinct.

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