The two aspects of every interpersonal interaction are thoughts and feelings. You can change people’s views of your ideas by changing how they feel about you; you don’t need to change your idea. This is because emotions are more powerful influencers than cognitive tools such as reason, logic and thoughts. However, we still need cognitive tools. They serve as the diversion, distraction and excuse allowing the emotional aspects of relationship building to work. This is because emotions can create discomfort for people especially in a business setting.
The right-hand diagram expresses this by showing the direct nature of thoughts (red arrow) and the indirect one of feelings (blue arrow). While thoughts become the overt focus of the interaction, the message’s real impact arrives through the back door on a deeper level in the form of impressions. Therefore, thoughts become excuses to build relationships.
For example, when a boy carries a girl’s books home, it’s not because he likes to carry books. He wants to interact with the girl. The visible, tangible acts are carrying books and conversing. The invisible, intangible ones involve developing a emotional connection. If he were to overtly state his romantic intentions, he’d likely scare off the girl. Carrying the books serves as the boys excuse, diversion and distraction while feelings do their subliminal work.
Even though the emotional connection we develop with employees is not the same as the one in our example, we observe excuses to foster relationships every day in business as “face time” with the boss. From the perspective of the right-hand diagram, the feelings developed in this face time are more important than the actual exchange of ideas. Thus, we should evaluate every interaction’s potential for relationship building, not just for the objective communication of ideas.