The Business of Feelings

As humans, we are thinking and feeling creatures, even when we’re doing business with each other. Awareness of both gives us strategic power.

  • Consciousness of my thoughts and feelings gives me the strength of both in my negotiations.
  • Attempting to force feelings out of my awareness takes energy I could otherwise focus on the transaction of business.
  • Even if I am successful at cutting myself off from perceiving my feelings, they’re operating at an unconscious level, perhaps in non-mission critical ways or even in anti-mission critical ways.
  • Cultivating empathy with myself – the ability to understand and relate to my own feelings, situation and motives – strengthens my ability to empathize with others. If I can emotionally and rationally put myself in my customer’s place, I’m much more likely to be able to offer a product or service from my company that truly meets the customer’s need.
  • If I am one of those who pooh-poohs the importance of feelings, and I’m negotiating deals with people who have the full power of awareness of their thoughts and feelings on their side, combined with an ability to empathize, they have a competitive advantage over me. In a negotiation, they may truly know me better than I know myself.

Many believe awareness of our feelings weakens us for business.  “Don’t take it personally,” we’re told repeatedly.  Translation:  “Don’t let feelings affect your actions.”

And that is the challenge with feelings.  Many of us are undone by feelings.  When we “let them out,” they tend to overwhelm us.  We feel, we act, then think “What were we thinking?!” We haven’t been taught how to use feelings to help us choose actions.

How to work with feelings can actually be depicted in a very rational formula:

A powerful formula for feelingsTranslation: “Ah, I’m having a feeling.  Let me pause to think about that.  Okay, I think I see options x, y, or z.  I’ll choose to take action on y.”

Using a feeling, thinking, acting order – FTA – rather than a feeling, action, what was I thinking order – FAT – gives me all the power of my humanity to make thoughtful, sometimes necessarily calculated transactions and negotiations. 

Thus, when someone says to me, “Don’t take it personally,” I say, “Oh, I take everything personally.  But I do it strategically.”


Anne Giles Clelland, M.A., M.S., has degrees in education and counseling.  She writes a workplace advice column for Valley Business FRONT.  She is the founder of Handshake 2.0.

Triathlons Create Companies
A Local Triathlon Economy


  1. I love the closing comment…”but I do it strategically!”

  2. Thanks, Gail! It’s made a world of difference to take everything personally – and strategically! 🙂

Speak Your Mind