We can use the term value to mean what we feel, positively or negatively, toward a person or situation. When we have good feelings about someone, we say we value him or her, whereas the opposite is true with bad feelings. So feelings embody values judgments. When we think we should like someone but don’t feel the good feelings we expect, then we experience some degree of conflict.

One of my clients recently shared why those without emotional awareness make such simplistic, rapid judgments in black and white. He revealed that anything that appeared too complex – so that it didn’t fit into his clear-cut categories – made him feel very uncomfortable. Consequently, he cut things down to size so he could judge them on a more simplistic basis. It makes it easier to see how difficult business decisions are too often made on simplistic bases, sometimes sacrificing ethics and even legal considerations, leading to insurmountable problems down the road. Focusing on awareness in business can avoid such poor decision making. One aspect of being successful at work has to do with feeling less confusion and more clarity about life issues. Happiness is associated with finding meaning at work, while unhappiness is associated with doubt and confusion.

In a very interesting analysis, people were divided into four categories – hot, cool, cerebral, and overwhelmed. Hot people feel their emotions intensely, are aware of their feelings, and can talk about them accurately. Cool people are the opposite – they feel little, are unaware of any strong feelings, and have little to say about them. Cerebral types don’t show their feelings but do a good job of talking about emotions. They’re aware of their emotions and can discuss them but are reserved about expressing them openly and spontaneously. The overwhelmed individuals feel their emotions intensely but can’t talk about them in any accurate fashion; in other words, they’re confused about labeling their emotions, hence the label overwhelmed.

Of all four groups, the overwhelmed group appears the most complex and interesting. These individuals cannot face the reality of their feelings – they try to avoid being influenced by their emotions and end up making decisions most different from the other groups, yet paradoxically, they report being most influenced by their moods. They mistrust their feelings, guard themselves against them, and end up with complicated decision making (or complicated outcomes). The more clearly we can describe our feelings, the happier and more effective we will become at work. The worst-case scenario is to be affected by our feelings but unable to identify them, especially when viewed through a gloomy lens.

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