Work can be tough. Personalities can be strong. Opinions can differ.
But does that mean we have to let emotion get in the way?
In the book “Crucial Conversations,” the authors cover three elements that occur in every crucial conversation: opposing opinions, high stakes and strong emotions. The authors suggest that people can handle crucial conversations in one of three ways. “We can avoid them, we can face them and handle them poorly or we can face them and handle them well.”
But what if we take emotion out of the equation?
Could we have a crucial conversation?
I would argue “no.”
It can be challenging, because we’re talking about people’s careers and livelihoods, but what if we removed “strong emotions” from the discussion?
I remember hearing a former boss telling an upset colleague, “There’s nothing so important that happens here that is worth crying over.”
And I believe that’s true.
Yes, it’s your job, but it’s only your job. It doesn’t define you. Unless your work involves helping the less fortunate or curing sick children, your on-the-job performance doesn’t make you a better person. Conversely, your failures at the office don’t make you less of a person. You either simply had a bad day, or, if those bad days compound over time, maybe you’re simply not in the right job.
If you’re the type who allows your job to define you, that’s ok too, so long as you compartmentalize it and don’t let it affect the other areas of your life.
Heather Schuck, author of “The Working Mom Manifesto” said “You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”
And, as my dad once told me, “on the day you die, you’ll still have stuff in your in-box.”
It’s important that we understand the role our work plays in the overall scheme of our lives. Our work is important, and I’m not advocating that we all become faceless, emotionless robotic shells of human beings from 9-5. All I’m saying is that if we can mitigate the amount of emotion we allow to pervade our work life, we can focus on navigating the opposing opinions and achieving our share of whatever high-stakes game we’re playing.