It’s an old debate: head versus heart. What you think versus what you feel. These two forces within our psyche are often portrayed as clashing; creating an inner tension and disagreement within our everyday decision-making.
But our use of language is imprecise and allows much overlap. For example: how do you know if what you feel is the logical solution? Are the two things even separate at all? And does it matter? How do you choose which to satisfy? Do you even need to?
The “head”, our conscious, rational, logical thought process, takes time and reaches decisions in a considered, analytical way. While the “heart” informs our decision-making quickly and reflexively, though all those emotions we know so well; joy, sadness, love, anger, guilt – the whole human condition.
Trust your gut
So how do we make the most of these two seemingly disparate aspects of our internal make-up, and how do we make them work together to our advantage, especially in our day-to-day work?
As it turns out, the answer is: they already do. While emotions make establishing the difference between “good” and “bad” difficult, they are effective short-cuts to knowing how we think about something, and clinical studies suggest that the emotional component constitutes up to 95% of any decision-making process.
Without emotions we can’t quickly and easily make decisions. Logic is all well-and-good, but it’s just the final piece of the decision-making puzzle, with a lot of the supporting work done through emotional input from experiences we’ve had.
In a creative agency we want to produce the most innovative work we can. Both emotion and logic, and the dynamic relationship between them in our decision-making processes, play a huge role in our ability to do this.
First of all, let’s look at emotion…
“Motivational intensity” is the term used for how the strength of our emotion impacts our level of creativity. In the “Productivity, Motivation & Place” bert journal entry, we identified “intrinsic productivity” as the metric for the level of personal interest we have in a project, and “motivational intensity” as the metric for the strength of our emotions which supports productivity and quality of work.
As we established in that article, experiences affect our emotions; and as emotions affect our creativity, it is logical to conclude that experiences affect our creativity. Indeed, curious and surprising experiences trigger a mix of emotions which impact our creativity in a variety of ways.
The more we accept and embrace changes in emotional state, the higher our “affective engagement” is; that is to say, the more engaged and open we are to what we experience, feel, desire and so on, the more creative we are. So the theory goes.
…and now logic.
To a creative, logic may seem like a barrier, but learning to utilise this, just as we should our emotions, can propel creativity to a new level.
Being a creative thinker requires taking risks, and risks can reap big rewards, right? Right! Creativity means you’re allowed an opinion, you get to experiment. There are no limits.
Logic requires analysis, time and limitation. What a bore, right? Wrong! This analysis is key to structuring all these limitless thoughts you’ve had. It is only by balancing these opinionated creations with logical time and thought that we create a finished product of holistically-detailed innovation.
Who can argue with a creative solution that considers all the angles?
It’s a balance that has significance beyond the creative studio of course. It has relevance across the agency landscape. Because in our industry, emotion has a huge impact on the way things work.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control and be aware of your own emotions, and be able to express these appropriately to manage and align them with those around you. This involves social skills, empathy, motivation, self-regulation and self-awareness.
Here at bert, one of our values is to “lead”. As a leader there’s a danger of taking motivation too far – creating pressure rather than motivation – but practicing the art of being emotionally intelligent through social skills and empathy enables everyone in the agency to be a leader in their own way.
Now of course, both logic and emotion also impact everything our clients do too. They know what they want (and what they don’t want) but often we discover that the really big challenge they experience is not knowing how to get there.
Our purpose as an agency is to create the solutions that achieve these desires for our clients. And crucially, it is our ability to be emotionally intelligent that enables us to understand emotion, build relationships and act in the best interest of clients in unexpected, creative ways that they may not have even considered.
A case in point is bert’s “CoCreation” methodology, which really highlights the importance of influencing client emotions. The CoCreation process allows our clients to live the story of their brand, product or service; to build their sensual understanding, and experience the emotion involved.
We think of this as taking a test drive to truly discover a brand’s meaning for yourself, in order to portray the experience to your customers more effectively.
Emotions are temporary, logic more durable; but we are making decisions all of the time using both processes, so how do we make sure the two align to ensure the decisions we make are the best ones?
The answer is surprisingly simple: through waiting.
As logic is the later process, the key is to give yourself enough time to permit it to play its part. Learning to wait for the fleeting influence of emotion to subside so the rational mind can kick in will strengthen the quality of your decision-making every time.