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Monday, October 4, 2010

Two Examples of Emotional Appeals

While certainly tears and begging come to mind as examples of making emotional appeals at work, there are two other types of making emotional appeals that stand out more than all others. Both are insidious because they are so common.  The first is the frequent, habitual knee-jerk response of whining that something is expected of you.  The only other emotional appeal that wars with this one for preeminence in the workplace is complaining.

Did you think that whining and complaining were really only modes of self expression that you have a right to exercise because you live in a culture that promotes freedom of speech and the right to happiness?

Of course, but there is something else in the workplace called decorum, and neither complaining nor whining support the desired decorum of workplace discourse.

Additionally, both whining and complaining cost you great credibility in the workplace.  While people might listen sympathetically, it doesn't take long for others to decide that you are a cry-baby.  Immature. A slacker.  Illogical, too.

Illogical? Not because emotional appeals do not present a reasonable argument for making workplace decisions, but because making emotional appeals in the guise of whining and complaining undermine your reputation in the workplace.

They are, at their heart, a form of emotional appeal that other people who are task-driven listen to and then have to work around to get their jobs done.

What whining is:  a form of sloth.  People who whine don't want to work, but they don't want to say that.  They complain about the workload, the insurmountable problems, or accuse someone else in the workplace of being the reason that the work can't be done.  Anytime you hear someone begin a sentence with, "What you don't understand..." you are most likely about to hear someone whine.

Complaining is similar. It's a way of avoiding exertion or taking responsibility for the outcome of an assigned job.  But people don't want to say, "I don't want to be held responsible for how this project turns out," so they say something like this:  "There's not enough time.  There's too much to do.  You should have asked me yesterday.  They are going to have to pay me more if they want me to do that.  Nobody told me that I was going to have to do that. Nobody trained me to do that.  How am I supposed to know how to do that? They didn't teach me that in college!"

Complaining lays the groundwork for later making an excuse for failing.  It's not even a slippery slope.  It simply leads to that.  I told you it couldn't be done.

The antidote for the problems caused by these types of emotional appeals is simple. Listen to yourself. If you are the one complaining and whining, stop.  If you are listening to someone who chronically whines and complains, cut to the chase.  Instead, just say, "We'll talk about that later. Let's get to work now."

Then, get to work.

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