Emotional reasoning - SESSION 3

Emotional reasoning is the skill of fusing emotional information from yourself and others and combining it with facts and information when decision making.

Drawing on moral purpose, values and beliefs – these shape how we feel and respond to situations.

why is emotional reasoning important?

  • There is a lot of information in ‘feelings’
  • Emotional reasoning helps you have quality decision making – you might want to delay implementing a change across your team until the morale of the team is high.

Test the moment and decide when to implement something – don’t use this however as a reason to delay dealing with something or to lose sight of it!

  • If you are not in the right frame of mind yourself your own emotional feelings may get in the way of thinking clearly, make sure you are feeling in the right place to make the decision

fact to note

Research has shown when making a decision the emotional reasoning part of the brain is used more than the intellectual part of the brain.

gathering emotional information

  1. Questions you ask yourself to bring your own emotional information to the surface when decision making?
  • How do I feel?
  • What environment am I putting myself into?
  • Put yourself into the other person’s shoes, how you would think about the situation?
  • How does my own bias think about this?
  1. What questions can you ask others to support bringing their emotional information to the surface when assisting with decision making?
  • What are their thoughts on the decision, what are you thinking?
  • Ask the question again (don’t necessarily take their first answer).
  • What are you concerned about? Try to draw out how they actually feel.
  1. What other sources of emotional information (or guidance for emotional reasoning) might there be?
  • Get someone else’s opinion of what you are about to do
  • Does it feel right – if not, why not?
  • Consider the body language or tone of voice you use as well as those you are working with.
  • How does the decision being considered affect the values/company purpose etc.

barriers to effective emotional reasoning

Some reasons why we fail to reason with emotional information effectively:

  • I don’t have time to build an understanding about the way we fail to reason with emotional information effectively.
  • Spending time reflecting on my feelings is a low priority for me.
  • Engaging others in decision making is time consuming.
  • My leadership and authority might be challenged.
  • I believe my organization places more value on hard data.
  • This process could evoke strong emotions in others which I don’t want/feel able to manage.

What is confirmation bias?

  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Preconceived ideas

intellectual humility - HOW TO DEVELOP?

 What is intellectual humility?  – the strength to admit when you are wrong.


The person we are now is only a result of allowing ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn.

Recognising a gap in knowledge isn't a weakness

The model below describes the sense-making process as a combination of both asking and telling and shows that through asking questions and telling others, leaders can build new knowledge.  This is referred to as building new knowledge within the group or making unknown knowns – known.

You don’t know what you don’t know! 

Need to be working to create knowledge required to engage in all four quadrants of the model – this emotional reasoning involves exploring feelings in oneself and others and combining this information with facts and technical information.