In the 1992 movie A league of their own, Tom Hanks (the coach) emphatically berates one of the female baseball players saying “There’s no crying in baseball!”. I can almost hear him saying that about business too, “There’s no emotion in business!”.
I’ve always been fascinated at how the professional world is founded on vulcan like logic where there is little room for emotion. Early in my career I was very passionate about my profession and, being green, that translated to emotional driven conversations, and poorly chosen wording to the wrong people. Over time I’ve worked hard to maintain the passion but curtail the emotion. I’ve read communication books, reviewed my distribution list, paused before clicking “send” and have made decent strides over the years to remove the emotion from my professional communications.
Recently I’ve been reviewing another aspect of this concept. Personal communications with colleagues. Take this scenario, you and your buddies go out for a beer, you might mention how work is getting on your nerves and how bob from accounting keeps getting on your case for those TPS reports. Now suppose there’s another guy at work that you go to lunch with now and then. You have the same conversation with him as well. That is proabbly not a good idea.
I’m of the mindset that these more personal conversations probably shouldn’t occur with any professional peers. You may have a decent working relationship with someone where you can be honest about the state of things but even in these situations professionals need to keep their guard up and act professionally.
Here’s a scenario. Jim and I are in different groups but working on a project together. We’ve been on project for some time and have a rapport. One day after dealing with marketing I fire off an email to Jim. “Marketing really is annoying, why can’t they just give us a plan and stick to it instead of changing it every day”. Jim agrees and we move on.
I let emotion slip into my communication though and while I have a decent rapport with Jim we’re not drinkin’ buddies, and even this minor level of emotional conversation sets a tone about me and my professional maturity.
It’s sounds simple and harmless but this level of personal communication will limit your career. Rather than presenting the emotional statement of “Marketing really is annoying, why can’t they give us a plan and stick to it” I might be more professional and say “Marketing is impacting our ability to deliver the project. We need to meet and discuss locking down the plan to avoid these additional costs”
Business favors logic and discipline, and those of us with passion and emotions need to filter our words well in order to succeed.