Beliefs and Emotions

Why do we get so emotional when we clash with people at work?

We all share a basic human need to feel good about ourselves, to have a sense of self-worth.  We get this sense of self-worth from feeling significant (that we matter), competent (that we are respected) and likeable (that others like us).  When we engage with others, these feelings can be enhanced when we are able to get our core needs met.  Someone who has a core need to get things done quickly (Mobiliser) will feel good when others do their bit.  Someone who believes it’s important to have a thought-through plan (Navigator) will feel good when others act on their plan.

But these positive feelings of self-worth can be undermined when others don’t value the same things as us and when we disagree on how to proceed.  Someone who believes it’s important to involve other people to get their commitment (Energiser) will feel uncomfortable in a command and control setting.  Someone who want to take time to consult and gather input (Synthesiser) will feel stressed when others rush ahead to action. 

When our core needs and beliefs conflict with those of our colleagues, we feel this as a threat to our self-worth and we experience fears of being excluded, humiliated or not accepted.  This triggers an emotional reaction and the fight or flight response. 

If you want to avoid emotional clashes and conflicts with your colleagues, act in a way that enables them to get their core needs met and beliefs valued, so they maintain their sense of self-worth.  And of course, do the same for yourself.