At the heart of many conflicts in business, STEM, and just about everywhere else is a collision of emotions and facts. Emotions and facts are clearly two distinct topics, however, they can become almost inseparable without self-control and common sense. Simply put, feelings don’t care about the facts or the law!
My challenge in developing this post was difficult not because of too little content, but too much! Trying to choose examples from my own experiences or those of others proved challenging. I decided not to agonize over which examples are best, but will begin with the call I received two nights ago from a good friend after 9 p.m. She had just completed a teleconference meeting for a non-profit board of directors (bod) that represents a certain segment of the legal profession.
A Non-Profit: For starters, the meeting began late. The first item of business was to approve the agenda. Things spiraled downward very quickly at that point because the new president had little experience in governance and no knowledge or experience using Robert’s Rules of Order. When it was pointed out that the bylaws specifically call out that board meetings are to be conducted using Robert Rules of Order, a meltdown ensued. Several board members were accused of personally attacking the president and order for the meeting spiraled downward very quickly. Needless to say, not much was accomplished during the first bod meeting of the year.
Fact: This non-profit has a set of bylaws. Within them, an article identifies Robert’s Rules of Order as the governing authority that is to be used for conducting business. It also appeared that no effort was made to include others at the meeting who may have been knowledgeable in the use of Roberts Rules of Order to ensure that the requirements of the bylaws were met, and to facilitate the business of the board.
“’Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Congressman Daniel Patrck Moynihan (1927-2003)
A Corporation: A rare promotional opportunity surfaced within the division of an international company. It was a first level management opportunity to work with a division vice president (VP) for 12 to 18 months. The person was selected from a group of employees who had attended an information meeting facilitated by the VP. A certain employee had distinguished herself from peers by engaging the VP in meaningful dialogue and questions during the meeting.
On hearing the name of the candidate to fill the open position, the other employees who had attended the meeting were bummed for obvious reasons. However, one person in particular was visibly upset and began crying. When questioned by her manager as to her visible emotions, she indicated that she made a comment in the VP’s meeting, therefore, she thought her name should have come up for consideration. After three days of inconsolable behavior by this employee, her manager asked that the department delay telling the “selected employee” about the opportunity until they could get things under control.
After two weeks, the employee was still inconsolable. Perhaps a better description of the situation is that the employee was unable to accept that she was not the candidate of choice. The department’s management team made a decision to ask the VP to give the promotional opportunity to the whiner. Stop! Stop! Stop!
Read the sentence again to make sure you didn’t miss something. If you think the employees within this department were bummed about the first announcement, they were fit to be tied with those who were involved in this decision. Needless to say, moral was already low within the organization, and it sunk much deeper.
Fact: The VP identified a candidate for his open position based on some pre-selected criteria. An unhappy employee had a tantrum when she found out that she was not the preferred candidate. Several persons attempted to explain to the unhappy employee the rationale behind the VPs selection, however, the employee wasn’t having none of it because her feelings and emotions didn’t care about any of that.
While appeasing the unhappy employee and awarding her with the promotional opportunity, the department set the stage for a demoralizing working environment with the employees who remained. This was one of many missteps on the part of management that eventually undermined the department. Although the unhappy employee was rewarded with a promotion to the VPs office, she was unable to find a new assignment after her internship was over, and she eventually ended up having to leave the company.
Initially, the employee’s feelings didn’t care about the facts, policies, or procedures. However, eventually, the facts and other hiring managers didn’t care about her feelings either.
“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” — Horace Walpole
From A Lawyer’s Desk: Ruth Carter, a fellow blogger, author, professional speaker, and attorney wrote in a related post, The Law Does Not Care About Your Feelings [Ref 1]:
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it: The law doesn’t give a **** about your feelings.
I get a lot of phone calls and emails from people who are sad, angry, afraid, or filled with regret and they ask me if there are any legal options for their problems. The law doesn’t provide recourse when you’re sad. The law provides recourse when your rights have been violated.
And don’t assume that just because your feelings are hurt that your rights must have been violated. With most people I talk to, that’s not the case.
The law doesn’t care about your feelings. It cares about your rights –only when you can actually prove it….”
I highly recommend that you read the rest of Ruth Carter’s post. As she tactfully states in the opening paragraphs above, hurt feelings don’t equal a violation of rights. Too bad the managers in the large corporation didn’t know or understand this key point.
As one of my mentors shared with me many years ago, on your way into the office, meeting, or a building, leave most of your emotions and feelings at the door. He wanted to stress that often when it comes to doing business, a lot of one’s feelings and emotions need to be set aside. Too often, feelings and emotions are allowed to run amok in the work place as well as other environments. This may lead to statements made or actions taken that, regrettably, one can’t take back or get a do-over on.
For all the talk about performance and merit, the supervisor and managers in the corporation above allowed themselves to be suckered by an employee’s immature behavior. Not only did the organization not benefit from the best ideas and insights that the other employee may have brought to the table, the double-edged sword was a blow to the moral of hard-working employees and discredited some members of the management team.
As most adults have learned and know, if you don’t manage your feelings and emotions, they will manage you. As Ruth Carter so eloquently states: “The law doesn’t care about your feelings.” My addition, “And neither do the facts.”
Fact: As Carter writes in her post, “In general, the law is a bad course of action to resolve a non-criminal problem…If you think you have a legal problem should you consult a lawyer?…But don’t be surprised if the lawyer tells you that there isn’t a legal solution to your problem.”
Most lawyers, including those on television, will tell you that how you feel and what you desire to see happen don’t make it to the court room. They are most interested in what they can prove, so stick to the facts.
OBTW, that bag of emotions that was left at the door will be waiting for you as you exit the office, building, or work environment.
- The Law Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings, in the Blog of Ruth Carter, August 14, 2016, http://carterlawaz.com/2016/08/the-law-doesnt-care-about-your-feelings/