Walk the passageways on any Navy ship or workspace, and you’ll likely be asked: “How are you?” If you’re like most, you may not provide an honest answer. Instead, you may reflexively reply with great, good, fine, or ok, demonstrating how people tend to steer around their genuine emotional states. Individual leaders must learn to recognize and deal with emotions; and if the Navy wishes to increase creativity, innovation, and retention, it must develop its leaders’ abilities to perceive, use, understand, and manage both their own emotional states and those of their followers.
Emotions influence the way people think, work together, and, most importantly, make decisions. Despite this, they are often overlooked, misunderstood, and avoided. As a service, the Navy struggles to create space for self-awareness and emotional reflection—to engage with the question: “How are you feeling?” Some members of our force claim talking about emotions requires too much time and energy. Others argue emotions are disruptive, unproductive, and have no place in the military. They claim emotions are messy and touchy-feely.
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