Feelings at work: Commenting on Dame Eleanor Hull

#2: DEH’s rant [a few days back] on her blog seems quite reasonable to me!
#1: yes, it is a reasonable rant :)
personally I just want people to do their jobs and leave me along
alone
#2: I don’t want to talk about FEELINGS ever at work
we can talk about processes and professional interaction or something
#1: yeah, but what about that non-threatening language
“I feel…”
though I admit to not using it
it takes a lot of pre-meditation for me to use the nonthreatening language
#2: I could use that, maybe, but I’d still rather not talk about my feelings
at work!
#1: and I will say that I feel like I’m not valued when I don’t get raises
giving me additional money makes me feel valued
#2: YES
man I like money
man I wish I had more
#1: being told to teach a new prep of an awful gigantor first semester into class when I already teach the other awful gigantor first semester into class… that makes me feel like leaving
#2: “feel like” is cheating
#1: Well, it makes me feel upset, and that makes me feel like leaving.
I dunno though, “feel like a natural woman” seems to be talking about feelings and it is a “feel like”
#2: I don’ t even know what “feel like a natural woman” means. How would I know if I were feeling it?
#1: It always makes me think of being fresh out of the shower and ready for love
#2: showering isn’t “natural”
also showering makes me want to sleep
#1: maybe I’m an unnatural woman
#2: probably best not to talk about feeling like a natural woman at work anyway

Grumpy readership, how do you feel about discussing feelings at work?  (And what does feeling “like a natural woman” mean anyway?)

11 Responses to “Feelings at work: Commenting on Dame Eleanor Hull”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    As a leader, I think its important to know how people feel about their jobs and changes you”re making. The best ones don’t use touchy feely language though. I was sitting next to one at dinner the other night and he never once asked about people’s feelings but spent the entire time probing people about just that. Instead of asking, how do you feel about x,y or z, he would say, tell me who your favorite assignment leader was and why (this was a dinner for sales trainees who graduated the training program). What did you want to do more of, etc, etc. Often the answers involved people’s feelings but he didn’t bluntly ask about their feelings cuz that’s just awkward and too personal of a question. Great leaders get to know what makes their staff tick and that involves emotions on some level. They need to know what excites you and annoys you but let you volunteer that information with their sensible yet probing questions. Alternatively, they truly listen when you talk and make changes when something is amiss.

    Coincidentally 3 of the 4 people stated my husband was their favorite and they were like “it’s like he knew everything about me without me telling him anything about myself.” Really? I think you probably said and did plenty. You just didn’t realize he was paying attention. He cares a lot about his staff and everyone knows it but he is the furthest thing from a touchy feely guy. I think that is the secret. Caring but not going around telling everyone you care because then it feels fake and weird.

    I do want to feel like my leader cares about me and has my back, (cuz who wants to work for someone who’s just out for themselves?), but I don’t always want a hug when I see him or her.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I like that approach; feelings are definitely relevant to job performance but I want it to be my choice to bring them in or not. Asking about my favorite leader gives me a chance to say “she made me feel respected and valued” if I want, or else I can just talk about the actions she took, and both are useful info.

  2. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Agreed that “feelings” talk is counterproductive at work, but it is very important for people to be aware of each others perceptions of professional reality.

  3. Linda Says:

    What FGA said.

    Is this type of behavior encountered more in some types of work settings than others? In my corporate work place, discussions of feelings don’t come up. Feedback is asked for in the ways that FGA has already shared.

    Although…I was talking with a colleague who works in another business unit last week about my desire to find a different position and how I had applied for one already in a different business unit (not the one in which this colleague works). She said something about how that unit seemed sort of cold and how her unit was more “warm and fuzzy” in their leadership style. I was thinking, “Ick! I would not like that!”

    As for the song, if you consider all the lyrics I guess she’s saying that being in love is a natural state for a woman. Although this part disturbs me a bit: “Now I’m no longer doubtful of what I’m living for; And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more.” So, I guess she’s saying that a “natural woman” needs to feel subservient and useful to a man. That doesn’t make me feel good. :-/

  4. plantingourpennies Says:

    Interestingly, I wonder if there is something to “feelings” and familial like relationships at work. In 2008, I was interviewing at two companies, the one I’m currently with and a PE funded venture where the office culture dictated talking about feelings and used terms like sibling rivalry and wanted to know how your background affected your current interactions. (Honestly some of the interviews felt a little like therapy.). The company paid for life coaches and had a huge focus on “the whole person”. It weirded me out a bit, and ended up taking the other job because the project was cooler, but kept an eye on that company and they did very well even through the recession, so perhaps there is something to understanding office dynamics within a more emotional context. I’d like to see a “good to great” style book examining these kinds of companies, honestly. But I’m not sure there are actually enough out there for good statistical analyses.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I can see how that approach might be cool in a way. In the abstract I believe in looking at the whole person. However, I don’t want every part of myself to come into the workplace, and I definitely don’t want to talk about sibling rivalry!

      • JaneB Says:

        I think that, like everything else, perhaps what is most important is that there is variety. Different situations suit different people. I for example am tired of positive feeling-words – passionate about subject X, enthusiastic – being used more about male colleagues and less positive ones – angry, bitchy, over-emotional – being used more about female ones, but I don’t think the solution is a feelings-free workplace.

        I am an academic because I CARE about ideas and the transmission of ideas. I don’t want to spend 8-10 (-12) hours of every working day doing something I don’t care about or value. Therefore of course I have feelings about my work, and sometimes they will affect my behaviour, and I expect my colleagues to be similar – one way of dissing a colleague is to say that they ‘don’t seem to care’ about whatever it is, right?

        However, I think being legitimately allowed to have feelings in the workplace and about ones work is rather different from HAVING to disclose said feelings. I don’t favour a blanket ban – like DEH, I’m an intravert, but perhaps not so strongly and more significantly I’m single and my good friends and family are all at some distance – the nearest I have locally to the sort of friends one can talk to about feeling-things or can expect to understand feeling-issues are also colleagues. That applies to some colleagues too, and others have spouses who aren’t for whatever reason (their own stresses/temprements/tendency to provide instant solutions to complicated problems that need processing etc.) people who provide the sort of listen-reflect-encourage to confront and deal with support that a good friend can. So feelings at work, sure, of course. And sometimes, frankly, stuff you if you can’t handle the fact that I am angry or upset by some action you took or proposal you’ve made, and express that as politely as I am able or request thinking time to allow my feelings to settle. You’re probably thinking ‘just get a therapist’ but I don’t see caring about my work as unhealthy, and I don’t see why I should pretend to be something I’m not.

        However, if our boss wanted circle time?? Nope.

        And if I don’t want to talk about feelings, I’ve always found it relatively easy to deflect the conversation into a more neutral line:
        A: “How do you feel about teaching course X?”
        me: “I’ve not taught it before so I’d need extra prep time if I’m assigned it”
        A: “But how would you feel about it?”
        me: “I’d feel like I needed extra prep time! Maybe B could take on my second tutor group, then I could teach course X?”

        or

        A: “aren’t you mad about situation Y?” [trouble-making]
        me: “It is annoying, but I can see that it makes sense for the department as a whole”
        A: “But aren’t you mad?”
        me [as dryly as possible] “well, sure, I work here”

        Yeah, of course I fail sometimes, but really, most of the comments here seem to be so black and white. I think the problem arises when a work place is functioning fine at one level of public-emotionality and someone comes in who has a certain position of authority or responsibility AND tries to impose a different level of p-e on people who were perfectly happy. Yet another thing that both the hirer and the hiree are looking for in that elusive ‘fit’…

  5. chacha1 Says:

    DEH’s rant is a gem of a rant. Concise, calm, and clear.

    “I feel like leaving” = “I want to leave.”
    “I feel like a natural woman” = ? for me, this means, “I am in my body/self and loving it.” I’ve always read that song as being about how the right man/partner can make a woman feel utterly secure and not like she’s having to put on The Act.

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Confidential to cpp we haven’t posted on Thursdays for ages.


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