The Power of Emotions

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If you want to improve your relationships with others, whether in a business, family or social context,  you need to understand the power of emotions.

When I’m coaching advisors who are preparing to meet with a large prospect, I ask them to send me their current presentation.  Invariably, it’s a PowerPoint, with graphs, charts and data.

I ask this question:  What’s the emotion you are trying to elicit?  There’s rarely a satisfactory response, because they’re not thinking about emotions.  They believe humans process information rationally.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding.

Think of the brain as a giant funnel. Every minute of your waking day, you are confronted with all kinds of information. You hear sounds, smell odors, touch things, see things, talk with other people, and make thousands of judgments. Your brain needs to prioritize or it will be overwhelmed.

The brain gives information a well-defined pecking order. At the top is information that signals possible danger. Fear is a great motivator. It doesn’t have to take the form of being physically attacked. For example, fear of economic losses can also have a significant impact.

Other emotions follow right behind. If you feel that one choice is better (or less risky) than another, you’re more likely to choose it.

The brain “likes” emotional information, both positive and negative. According to psychological researchers, that’s why emotional memories are so vivid. The victim of a traumatic attack can relive all of the horrific details by revisiting the scene of the crime, even many years later.

The same level of recall occurs with positive emotional events like the birth of a child, a special trip, or graduation. That’s why you can forget where you put your glasses ten minutes ago but vividly recall your high school prom.

Factual data is at the bottom of the brain’s pecking order.

If you want to succeed with a business presentation, or deepen a personal relationship, the research is clear:  Focus on emotions.