Jan 21 '19

Understand your emotional tendencies and decision making to gain professional influence

By Curtis R. Sprouse

January 2019

How do we create change and influence others?

At the beginning of my career I would have said that information and data were most important when it comes to influencing people. This view was primarily driven by an educational focus on accounting, finance, and economics. Data-driven disciplines that use information, numbers, and statistics to develop a deep understanding of situations and influence/support the decision-making process. Many of the scientists and engineers that we work with at EurekaConnect would say that data is the only thing that matters when trying to make a decision.

As my career progressed into roles that focused on marketing and sales, I realized that data was not the most impactful mechanism of influence. This was not something I was exposed to in college, or even during the early part of my career with Ernst & Young.

The education I received was very focused on elements of business and decision-making process that were driven by numbers. The importance of relationships became more important as I learned how to effectively market and sell products. When one engages in sales, they gain better insight into the importance of relationships. Trust, respect, and the depth of each relationship become an important aspect of the process and necessary element of success.

Why it is that data is not the most important factor when it comes to influencing people? Why is it that even our nightly news plays on emotion, to affect public views and positions? Why it is that emotion has a greater impact on what people believe and how they act, than data?

The answer lies in the role emotions play in the decision-making process. Emotional decision-making happens much faster that rational decision making. The emotional brain is working much faster than the rational brain. Located in the forebrain, the thalamus affects the limbic system, the part of the brain that affects emotional processing—emotions that include but are not limited to, joy, happiness, sadness, frustration, fear, and anger.

The emotional brain—or paleomammalian brain—is important, as it enhances learning and memory, and allows us to expand learning and the use of emotion. Antonie Damasio covers this topic well in his book, “Descartes’ Error.” In this book, Damasio outlines his research and a series of case studies that establishes the link between the emotional brain and effective decision making. Damasio establishes the importance of the emotional brain in decision making. This is a book that people should read, as it opens one’s eyes to the importance of the emotional brain.

In our work at EurekaConnect, we have found that people can develop a better understanding of where they are on the emotional spectrum by understanding specific behavioral scores. The ability to show and feel Goodwill combined with Social Skills, the ability to connect to others in a meaningful and effective way, are just two of the behaviors that impact emotional decision making.

Expertise, confidence, and communication—one’s ability to exchange information and data in an effective way—also play an important role in helping people understand their current approach to using emotion to influence and evaluate situations. We have successfully helped people harness their understanding of their emotional influence model to develop stronger skills, enhancing their ability to see situations from a broader perspective, and helping them impact people and situations in a more effective way.

Furthermore, we expand professional development in people by helping them understand how to tie the rational brain to the emotional brain. We help ECBD program participants understand the importance of aligning Discipline (the ability to set goals), Authority (the ability to provide structure), direction, and process, and reward the ability to understand where they and others are, relative to accomplishing an objective with the emotional brain.

In the end, one’s ability to leverage both the emotional brain and rational brain are imperative to effective leadership. Emotions will always have a significant role in the decision-making process, but good data and facts are what help us to make sound decisions that can we can build on.

To learn more about the EurekaConnect process and how to develop Emotion and Rational Decision-Making skills please contact us.