“A satisfied man doesn’t understand the feeling of a hungry man.” – African proverb
When designers work on a product, they focus not only on its appearance and functioning but also the user’s aspiration to actually buy and, secondly, recommend it to others. This snapshot into the designer’s mind reveals how they strive to evoke positive experiences and not merely create a product.
Their work is all about our emotions. They understand our emotions to be the centre of our individualities, and anything that causes a positive arousal of them comes with grace to empower them. In short, we are our emotions and our emotions are us.
Creators and designers appreciate that people need to be touched, above all, in their innermost core in order for them to cherish whatever experience they get from using the product. Is this the kind of thinking that inspires leaders and managers when they are conceptualising policies and programmes? Not really: too often, they focus on ticking boxes.
The assumption that we are rational being inspires this attitude. The norm is ‘we need a policy on this and that’ and then they go on to draw them up – without enough focus on how our emotions will react to them.
The world is already saturated with many different programmes and policies. Thus, the introduction of new ones is always a call on the people to renew themselves. Sadly, many policies and programmes only highlight our obligation to renew ourselves but do not tell us the ‘how we should go about it’.
What good is it telling people to renew themselves if they are not also told what it is that they are to renew and how they should go about it? The conceptualisation of policies and programmes should focus on how the emotions of users can be affected.
The reason is simple. Research upon research have revealed that ‘emotions play a significant role in the human potential for understanding and learning about the world. Our brains are wired in such a manner that it is our emotions which help us make sense of the reality around them. Our positive experiences arouse curiosity and liking, whereas negative experiences safeguard us from repeating mistakes’.
This gives us an understanding that the emotions which a policy generates can have a greater impact on users’ perception than even its institution. Hence, during the formulation stage the approach should focus on psychological flow – that is, the optimal emotional experience users will get when they immerse themselves into the programme.
Employees normally appreciate the importance of policies and programmes instituted in the workplace; but they also know their presence is only the antecedent of true renewal. It would be tragic to stop at these things and think that the whole task has been completed. What matters to them is the structures.
It is how they affect them, and therefore allow them to experience positive feelings. People are concerned about what makes them feel good, and everything else is meant to function as a support to that priority. That is why an appreciation for promoting emotions by engagement should go into every policy or programme in the workplace.
The objective of this contribution is to draw the attention of policy and programme conceptualisers to the subjectivity of emotions, and what factors to consider and incorporate in order to generate the required arousal intensity and value users will attach to their experiences.
We need to create environments which allow users to interpret their experiences as something very exact – a renewal in which the policy or programme is the protagonist. This may seem like a small thing, a simple distinction, but it actually involves a real attitudinal revolution. It also involves an eclectic approach that people, businesses and communities would need to follow in order to generate a holistic renewal of attitudes.
There are many of us out there whose potential remains bound, or unused, because of the absence of certain conditions which would further its efficacy. Research argues that the enabling factor is to ‘up’ our emotional intelligence.
If we tap into the power of our emotions, we often come alive and release a burst of creativity and innovativeness. It’s as if our emotions are the fuel for reviving and actualising our potential. Thus, when we conceptualise policies and programmes to arouse the emotions of users, we can be sure we are going to inspire fruitfulness in individuals and teams.
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]