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If you know yourself, you will understand a little better the rest and how a human organization works. Seems pretty easy, but...


How are you defining "showing emotion"?

Being happy that you closed a sale, or taking pride in a job well done = acceptable

Crying hysterically, screaming at people, and generally being an ahole = not acceptable

Dean Zatkowsky

Freedom to be oneself is a tremendous incentive for attracting and keeping talented people. The goal, however, should be a democratic workplace, not anarchy. Declare the company's values publicly and make sure respect is among them. People can be free and accountable for their behavior.

Bay Jordan

Ah Steve

The comments above show the difficulty you face. As ever with humankind, the concept may be great, but it all depends on how it is manifested.

I have every sympathy with what you say - after all I called my company Zealise because I wanted to help create a work environment where everyone has zeal for whatever it is they do. However, I regularly get comments that people hate the name. Why? Simply because the word zeal, like a huge number of words in the English language has both positive and negative connotations. (Some - although I cannot think of an example now I need one - can even simultaneously have opposite meanings!) I guess this is also the case with the word emotion. If it is positive it is welcome, if negative then it is "toxic", as your Google search seems to suggest.


"genuinely accept people for who they are"

Yes, certainly, as long as they are considerate of the opinions and emotions of those around them.

Nishith Trivedi

I completely agree that a higher degree of emotion leads to higher engagement. What would be more interesting to understand for me is to how not to allow the emotions to become personal as I find that high emotion people tend towards taking things more personnaly and therefore get disengaged faster as well. Would be great to hear your view on this Steve.

Janna Rust

Passionate people provide more energy to what they are doing. Employee engagement necessitates harnessing those passions.

Great leaders know themselves and can recognize what makes others "tick" and put them in appropriate roles. We have to know our employees as people to do that. I love incorporating values/motivators into leadership development.


I am one of those "passionate" people who've been told to can it, be quiet, stop asking questions. It DOES dis-engage me, big-time! I've been with the same company for quite a few years and I used to be able to ask questions, inquire about changes, ask "why" and "how" sometimes. I was sometimes the only person who WOULD ask questions and my co-workers depended on me to speak up! Now, with new bosses, those aspects of my personality have been "written up" and denigrated. It's tough. I'm passionate because I want our company to be BETTER and I'm PROUD of what we've done over the years. Thanks for this post, Steve!


I feel pride in a job well-done, high-five colleagues when we close a big sale, and demand accountability from everyone - including myself - when something falls short. I have been in my same role for 3 years and have developed a strong internal network.

Yet I've been treated as Jean has by my new manager, who stepped into his role only a few months ago (I have been there for years.) Any question of "why" or "how" is perceived as a threat and a challenge to his authority. I care deeply about my company, have worked long hours at impossible tasks and accomplished them, and do not feel valued by my management.

I've been written up and not received any pay increase this year because of him. I am now looking for another opportunity. If this is how engaged employees are treated, there is no reason to stay.


There's of course all kinds of evidence that engaged workers can increase productivity in a firm--that's at the macro level. At the micro level, it really does depend on the maturity and leadership of management at all levels. To have a boss that shuts down one's enthusiasm or creativity when senior management espouses and supports engagement won't get the organization where it wants to go.

Having an engaged workforce requires that management trust the insight and contributions that their engaged and enthused workforce will bring to the table. Not all managers and executives are comfortable with that; that leads to an environment that pushes out the best people as Erika states.

IMHO engagement in the workplace means people are aligned with the company's goals. An emotional person may be engaged in their own goals or the company's. But I think Steve's point is an excellent one--we already know we make decisions largely based on emotion. Seth Godin recently talked about it--making rational vs. irrational (ie emotional decisions). The key is to know in advance which type of decision you're making. There's a place for both.

Stuart Shaw

Maybe the problem is the word 'passion'. Carries a little too much with it (love, misdirection). I've just posted on the HubCap Digital Forum http://alpha.hubcapdigital.com/forum/list.hubcap calling for more interest. Frankly, I'm bored of engagement. Truth is, we only really engage with what interests us (or get passionate about the things that interest us). And this is where I think companies miss a trick. Most jobs are uninteresting. They're made to sound uninteresting (as a rule and a skill) as though this makes them sound important. But important isn't interesting. It's just something that's been red flagged. How about making important a challenge, an adventure, a prize, something to talk about over and above itself? That would be a real skill. And a goal.

Scott McArthur

Massive topic as these comments demonstrate. This whole issue though begins with a simple notion. Engaged people tend to be those who enjoy their jobs. In fact they enjoy it so much that thet do mad things like - blogging about the subject on a Sunday morning! The responsibility for engagement works both ways - yes employers have a responsibility but for your own sake - if you don't enjoy your job - LEAVE - and find something that engages you!


Interesting points! On the topic of the you might be interested to see the post Irrelevant boss by Vineet Nayar http://www.vineetnayar.com/the-irrelevant-boss/

Steve Roesler

John, thanks for adding the resource.

Harris Silverman - Business Coach

Intellect and rationality are important, but people live in their emotions. You can't have any kind of human interaction or engagement without emotional involvement.

Harris Silverman

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