The (useless) Art of leaving our Soul up on the hanger

By: Eduardo Magalhães Sarmento Afonso

We live in a split up, dual and confused world. Since we are young the messages are strange: “Do not raise your voice, do not get nervous, do not show your weaknesses and never be afraid…”

In general some authority voices that used to repeat such commands were the first ones to demonstrate at home the contradiction between what was said and done daily.

Questioned a lot by many organizational leaders, the attempts of including emotions in the working environment are, most of the times, new and lonely. Few companies assume emotional inclusion as a practice or an institutional politic and I can understand such low numbers, because of the amount of prejudice associated to them.

Nobody wants to reduce deliveries or take the risk of seeing their results on the hands of an army that uses part of their time to cry and simply turn the emoticon face down as an excuse to a less sunny friday (I imagine people doing this in London or Seattle).

Ok, it is challenging to talk about themes such as chronic or degenerative diseases in your co-worker’s families because, if an announced pregnancy is already a sign of happiness for all and, undeniably, it is the reorganization of the work and the team for some months, imagine how it must be to handle the news that your youngest and most dynamic executive’s father has Alzheimer and he’s going to live with her…

Therefore, as almost ever, there are no prompt recipes and there is a lot of disagreement about the means of emotional inclusion, mainly in countries like Brazil where the most part of the population receives the world through their emotional center (over 75% of the population, according to researches of Human Dynamics, accomplished by Sandra Seagal and David Horne on the 70’s and 80’s).

Some people say the same cultural signs that put us between the most disposed countries for corruption, also lead us to an abuse of acceptance of different moods, such as the days after the winning or lost games of any known Brazilian soccer team. The issue that I bring up is: “Is there a possibility of NOT including emotions on the work environment?…

The Chilean writer Susana Bloch, author of the book “Alba Emoting”, has studied and discussed for years that our emotions are fully connected to our body postures, breathing patterns and associative thoughts that, in the ontological practice we call it the eternal coherence of Body, Language and Emotions.

These seem bad news for the SLA’s of many companies that want to guarantee a level of service always increasing and measurable. However, Positive Psychology Studies and my daily practice as a consultant and coach using Appreciative Inquiry as a process of organizational intervention, shows that the emotional reception and being opened to difficult discussions enlarge one’s self-esteem, the possibilities of decisions and mainly confidence, the major input for any action coordination and team work.

“From our practical experience we know that there is a huge difference between going to work and really being present in the work environment and we also know that the quality of the delivered work is radically bigger when we are present and excited about something (excited just as the word animated is the etymological equivalent of being with your soul [anima])”

As I’ve said in the beginning, there are no rules or easy recipes, but I keep on betting that the emotional inclusion of their collaborators is a differential for high performance leaders.


Eduardo Afonso

Executive & Team Coaching