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Listen Up Leaders – Feelings Aren’t Monkey Business

That’s right – get your fingers out of your ears!

Grab a pen and jot down one change that is happening in (1) your organization, (2) your department, (3) your role and (4) your life.

Now, think of a word to describe how you feel about those changes and write your feeling next to each change.

Imagine doing this exercise with your team and asking them to share their array of feelings (not specifics about the changes). What would you hear? Well, because I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of people – I can give you some ideas. You’ll hear every emotion in the book – fear, excitement, anxiety, optimism, hope, discouragement, etc.

We all have feelings, we all react to different changes in different ways and we all have different skill levels to cope with the changes that are happening faster than ever in our professional and personal lives.

And, that’s where you come in. Right now, in these tough times, people need you to guide them through all of this chaos. They need you to lean on for support. They need to know that their leaders care about their feelings (not only their productivity and ability to do more with less). They need to know that it’s ok to talk about life. It’s ok to ask tough questions and expect transparency of our leaders – our collective survival depends on it.

For an upcoming Fish Wrapper article, Tom Laughon wrote, “The emotional toll of keeping our feelings on the inside is too much for any of us to bear. If you think you know just how these tough times are impacting your team, think again. Ask questions such as, “How are you holding up?”, “How is your significant other holding up?”, “What sacrifices are you having to make?” and “What are your fearful of?” Be a safe place that allows for feelings to be expressed without fear of recrimination. “

We make a living studying and teaching and guiding organizations through difficult (or exciting depending on how you look at things) times of change. What does your team want? They want you to listen and they want open communication. They want to trust you – we hear it time and time again.

Listening and establishing a good rapport leads to open communication –> which leads to increased morale –> which leads to increased productivity and retention –> which leads to better performance –> which leads to increased $ – and that’s something I know you love to hear!!!

So, get your fingers out of your ears and stop thinking of feelings as mushy-gushy monkey business . Start asking questions and most of all LISTEN and act accordingly.

><(("> Melissa Laughon

Melissa is a ><(("> Team Member at Catch Your Limit, a management consulting firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

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