Emotions & LogicOct 10, 2021
Everyone dreaded Morbidity & Mortality Conference when I was a medical student and resident. Usually it consisted of someone presenting a case in which, they the doctors, or the system screwed up.
It was a LONG hour for the person presenting as they were taken to task over their diagnosis and treatment of the patient. They quickly had to grow thick skin as they were an open target during a fairly brutal learning process.
The emphasis was the truth and the priority of learning took precedent over individual feelings. Each individual’s feelings may have been important to THEM, but the truth was important to ALL.
In his book, ‘The Parasitic Mind,’ Professor Gad Saad describes how our feelings can get in the way of truth.
As humans we have many ways of processing things. Two major processing mechanisms are emotions and logic. If we are buying a pension plan, we will probably start with our logic about all the reasons a plan is good or bad.
It’s then that we let our emotion come into play about whether we like and trust the person selling the plan. When buying a car, we may do the opposite. We may fall in love with the car and use logic to convince ourselves why that car is good for us.
If we are not careful we can use the wrong type of reasoning in the wrong situations. This has never been more true than during an election year.
It would seem appropriate that we would start with logical reasoning about the policies a candidate has and about how that might affect the economy, international politics, or national security. Then after weighing the logical arguments about a candidate’s policy and agenda turn to emotions about whether or not we like the candidate.
Instead, what we have experienced lately seems like an largely emotional battle. Both sides praising and criticizing hair, skin, demeanor, tweets, slip ups, or whatever the item of the day is with little pragmatic regard to their policy or performance. We lead with emotion and maybe, sometimes we end with a little logic, but even that seems rare.
This seems counterintuitive to me. As a scientist, truth has always been more important than feelings. Now, it seems the tables are turned. In many cases peoples’ feelings are the only thing that matters, and the truth be damned. In the same book Professor Saad documented a European council which essentially said it doesn’t matter if something is the truth if it hurt someone’s feelings.
We can’t afford to live like that.
Avoiding the truth is kind of like shoving your head in the sand. Sure, you didn’t have to swallow your pride, but you wind up with a mouth full of dirt.
I am sure this is done with good intentions. We certainly don’t want to hurt people on purpose. On the other hand, feelings are not the end all be all of human existence.
I have had employees who say, “I feel like I am working hard” but not produce results. There’s more to this picture than the sentence would imply and it starts and ends with the truth.
Furthermore, the economy, your bills, and your kid’s college fund don’t care how productive you feel. They depend on what you accomplish.
We need to learn to take responsibility for our actions and inaction. And maybe we need our feelings hurt sometimes to learn a hard truth. Haven’t we all experienced that?
Here is my challenge for each of us.
1. Dare to speak the truth. Really tell the whole truth and let the cards fall where they should.
2. Don’t lead with your feelings. Use your cognitive ability to look at things more logically instead of having your emotions steer your every move.
3. Be kind. We can speak the truth without sugar and still be kind.
Aesop wrote, “When all is said and done, more is said than done.” Let’s prove him wrong.
We need to focus on doing more and less on allowing what is said or felt to determine what gets done. And if you know somebody who has their head in the sand, do them a favor…pull them out.
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