“Oh, I don’t have time to worry about that touchy-feely crap. That’s why I have HR people.”
Get comfortable in your own skin. Accept that you are a whole human being walking into your firm every day. You are not just your brain; you are your heart, body, and spirit. All of you comes to work. When you understand and accept this, you will get better at recognizing that your emotions are an integral part of your successes and your failures. In fact, your emotions play a huge role in making you uniquely you.
Respect and acknowledge others’ emotions. Everybody has them, and they bring them to work every day. You don’t need to run around hugging everyone. However, you can certainly allow for a discussion of emotional responses to ideas, initiatives, and specific experiences. It’s as simple as this: just add a question to your conversations. In concluding a thought or conversation, you might typically ask “What do you think of that?”. Now just add one more: “How do you feel about that?” You are likely to get a richer and more meaningful response by asking both questions.
Actively seek out the emotional temperature of your organization. Don’t just find out what people are doing. Find out how they feel. Ask them. Then give them room to answer. Make it safe for them to answer truthfully. And if you don’t like the emotional temperature in your firm, take action to make things better. Be intentional about it and take personal responsibility for it, rather than relegating it to your Fun Committee or to HR.
All of this is easier said than done. But once you begin down the path of understanding people as whole beings rather than intellectual capital, no doubt you will find the journey rewarding for yourself and your firm. You will unleash your team in all its wholeness, increasing creativity, reducing turnover, and adding to your bottom line. It sure beats living life in the dark, cramped quarters of an emotional closet.