Communicate on the Same Wavelength



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Joyful dictatorship, or the downside of enthusiastic leaders

Joyful dictatorship, or the downside of enthusiastic leaders


He who has learned to listen will be able to command as well



What is excessive enthusiasm?


Over-enthusiasm on the part of a leader is one of the factors hindering the effective exchange of information and ideas in a team. Probably everyone, at least once, has, without much thought, agreed to an exciting-sounding proposal or taken on a task just because it was presented in an exciting way. 


It is possible that such a decision would be different if we had more time and space to think things over. However, time and space are hard to come by when your leader is full of enthusiasm, gesticulates a lot and… just doesn’t listen to you. He doesn’t even ask questions, assuming you think the same way he does. What’s more, you, when contacted, begin to feel the same way, and as a result, you don’t share your true views or feelings. 


This does not necessarily mean that you have been manipulated, but you have certainly succumbed to your interlocutor’s over-enthusiasm – and this in a professional environment can result in real losses.


Why is enthusiasm important?


Enthusiasm at work is important: it inspires, facilitates cooperation, and gives courage (Palus, 2021). However, too much openness and earnestness in conversations with others renders mutual contact devoid of depth. This is because it has been shown that feeling positive emotions – even those taken over from others – promotes carelessness (Schwarz, Clore, 2007) and simplistic analysis of information, including in terms of assumptions and judgments about people.


Meanwhile, it should be borne in mind that failure to grasp subtle differences among employees is a major irresponsibility with real costs. After all, managing on enthusiastic autopilot is akin to a happy dictatorship, in which the individual qualities of employees and their ideas cannot resound, because an over-energized leader is unable to hear anything. And it is the feeling of being heard that significantly increases employees’ motivation to perform better (Work Institute). 


Being overly animated when dealing with others is also a risk of misguided and costly decisions. Indeed, it has been shown to have a particular effect on how much we succumb to persuasion. When we are in a good mood, we care less whether the arguments are sound – the right number of arguments is then sufficient (Bless, Mackie, Schwarz, 1992; Bohner, Crow, Erb, & Schwarz, 1992; Innes & Ahrens, 1991; Mackie, Worth, 1989; Sinclair, Mark, & Clore, 1994). 


What’s more, it’s easy than to get misplaced compliments or inappropriate comments. After all, how animatedly gesticulating, constantly smiling, or puzzling will be perceived by the interlocutor depends not only on his personal preferences but also on cultural conditions.


It is also worth remembering that emotional states are contagious, so a person who is overly enthusiastic in dealing with others affects not only his interlocutor, but also the other members of the team. 


How to listen carefully?


Individual characteristics and experiences of employees – both those resulting from different cultural backgrounds and those resulting from neurodiversity – can be a source of knowledge, creativity, and innovative solutions. That’s why leaders who can listen to others get better financial results (Ferrari, 2012) and are perceived as more effective. They reduce risks, create a better work environment and make more profitable choices (Arshad, 2023). 


However, as many as 86% of employees do not feel listened to, and 63% say they experience ignorance in their interactions with supervisors (Work Institute). This raises the assumption that leaders – even if they are driven by other intentions – are incapable of listening.


This is not to get rid of openness and enthusiasm in dealing with others. Properly dosed, they facilitate relationships. However, even when announcing a particularly exciting project, it’s a good idea to take a deeper breath, pause and allow other team members to share their perspectives and opinions.


The most important thing in attentive listening is to make a conscious effort to focus on the speaker. Sometimes this also means taking a moment of silence, during which the other person can gather his or her thoughts. At other times, it may also be necessary to reflect on the emotions of the interlocutor (“I can see that you are disappointed with the coordinator’s choice”) or to paraphrase them. However, these psychological language skills can be difficult for overly enthusiastic leaders. That’s why it’s a good idea to use an empathizer, which suggests how to talk to a person.


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