Emotions are an evolutionary survival kit
Emotions rule our daily lives. We make decisions based on whether we are happy, angry, frustrated or attacked. We choose jobs and hobbies based on the emotions they incite.
Charles Darwin believed that emotions motivate us to act quickly and take actions that maximize our survival. Today, following renowned psychologist Paul Eckman, most psychologists agree that during evolution certain basic emotions emerged which act as a trigger to do something. Anger, fear, surprise, disgust, joy and sadness are natural, predictable responses to certain situations. In addition, many psychologists believe that humans also have moral emotions, like pride, guilt, embarrassment and shame. These are based on self-awareness, self-consciousness and our ability to empathize with others.
Emotions are caused by judgments
Emotions always manifest simultaneously in two ways: we have an subjective experience (we feel ashamed or angry) ánd our body undergoes certain physiological changes (we sweat or our heart rate rises). Psychologists are divided into two camps. One group believes that emotions are merely our perception of changes taking place within our bodies. In their view, we experience disgust because our body undergoes involuntary physiological changes like increased skin temperature at the sight of vomit. The other group believes that emotions are the result of a judgment of a current situation. In their view, when we experience disgust, it could be the result of a judgment about how we feel when we see vomit.
As moral emotions emerge after self-reflection, many psychologists believe they support the theory that emotions are results of judgments. Our perspective is that -in organizations- emotions are caused by judgments.
Emotions determine the ‘right’ decision, unconsciously
Often, emotions prevail over our thinking. In essence, our interpretation of a new situation (is this a joke or a threat?) is followed by a judgment (oh a threat, this situation is dangerous), which then triggers an emotion (the danger triggers fear in me) and action (I run away). Only then the thinking starts (where am I going to hide?). In early days there was no time to think. So, emotions had to “take over” our mind and trigger an immediate response. This is how emotions influence decision making and motivate us to select the right action. In our modern society and business environments this mechanism still is dominant.
Empathy fosters social bonds. Shame prevents us from harmful behavior to others. As we grow older, our emotions develop predictable, conditioned automated responses which fit the expectations of our society and business community. Automated implies that our emotional responses move to our unconscious domain.
Economics and society are still driven by the ‘pain & pleasure’ concept
Emotions push us to judgments, convictions, beliefs & opinions about situations, others and ourselves. They trigger us to take positions, which then influence our behavior. Marketing and politics make heavy use of this mechanism.
Economics -theory and practice- is highly influenced by the same mechanism. From Aristotle to Jeremy Bentham, one founder of capitalism, man believed that ‘pain and pleasure’ drive our behavior. Theories about organizations (people who cooperate, causing emotion experiences) and governance frameworks
(correct the emotions and create the ‘right’ behavior) still are vested in this idea of Man. It easily results in taking emotions for granted, or ignoring them altogether, forcing us to limit our ‘correctional measures’ to merely addressing behavioral symptoms. This road is a dead end.
New paradigm: we can adapt our brain & emotional lives
However, gradually a new paradigm is emerging. Daniel Goleman argued in his landmark book Emotional Intelligence that we cán adapt our brain and the way we deal with our emotions. Constantly new insights arise from neuroscience to biology, chemistry, physics and even quantum theory. Mainstream scientists now accept neuroplasticity (our brain cells can change and grow), mirror neurons (my emotions affect my neurons, which affect your neurons and emotions) and many other breaking insights about the interaction between brain and emotions. The message is that we can change our emotional life and behavior fundamentally. Not by learning tricks, but by adjusting our emotional response system. How? At the root of the issue. By
introspecting and correcting our (unconscious) interpretations of situations. That will cut the chain from interpretation to judgment to trigger of emotion to acting to thinking afterwards. In our view, this cutting of the chain is the heart of Emotional Intelligence or E.I.. Most of us need help to achieve this as the underlying processes happen at an unconscious level.
It hás to start at the top
From parliament to the ordinary man in the street the call for empathic and compassionate, yet firm behavior at the top is growing. People want to feel heard and taken serious.
Yet, boards and organizations still focus primarily on cognitive aspects (law and codes, financial insight, strategy development, risk). Certainly necessary, but not enough as long as emotional management (cutting the chain!) is not explicitly integrated in daily behavior. Piles of research demonstrate that a sweeping cultural change requires a drastic change of behavior at the top. How can I show vulnerability or compassion with customers in difficult circumstances when my boss perceives this as weakness? Our vision is that boards and executives only can promote E.I. in their organizations when they work on their own emotion management or E.I.. And only then really something will change in our society. These believes define our Mission:
We help boards and their organizations to
integrate emotional intelligence
into daily business practices.
We live our Mission in two ways. We help Boards and their organizations to integrate emotional intelligence best practices in goal setting, leadership roles, cooperation, communication and job execution. Furthermore we only offer services that contribute to increased emotional intelligence for our clients.
We focus on the triptych Emotions – Purpose – Ethics. We believe that Boards should increase their skills in handling ethical dilemmas, be able to define the deeper purpose their supervisory role and develop a broader vision on Man, society and the role of organizations therein.
The tools we use are coaching, counselling, advising, consulting, training & education and all comparable services which promote insight in the unconscious emotional lives of individuals, teams and organizations.
Our Core values
Ever tried to use the same set of values, in the same order of priority, for every different situation? It’s a rather disappointing exercise. Life is too complex. Nevertheless, we have tried to define a set of Core Values that we truly believe in and which we will try to live by in as many situations as possible. These are:
- We have compassion with other people.
- We approach our fellow man in an open, non-judgmental way.
- We take the time to listen.
- We are transparent and do what we promise.
- We inspire, laugh and show new dimensions.
We realize that we will make many mistakes. We admit them and are committed to improve.