David Brooks, author of the New York Times Best-Seller, “The Social Animal,” believes students learn from people they love. Studies by cognitive scientists show that emotion is essential to reason. Brooks recalls a time when he was teaching at Yale and had to cancel office hours due to personal issues. Revealing that one unspecific, yet personal, detail humanized him to his class and changed both the relationship and the tone between students and professor for the rest of the term.
Studies have shown that the idea that emotions negatively impact the ability to think rationally is empty rhetoric. Emotions assign value to things and therefore dictate what we pay attention to, care about, and remember. Brooks writes, “it’s hard to work though difficulty if your emotions aren’t engaged. Information is plentiful, but motivation is scarce.” However, extreme negative emotions, like fear, can have a devastating effect on a student’s ability to learn, as fear leads to defensive emotions such as aggression.
This applies equally to the workplace. Fear driven workplaces lead to hostility, low quality productivity, and high turnover rates. However, positive relationships with coworkers and management are the driving forces behind employee engagement and the quality of these connections have a major effect on company loyalty, productivity, and job satisfaction.
Brooks leaves us with a defining question for any school or company: What is the quality of the emotional relationships in your business or workplace?
Brooks, David. “Students Learn From People They Love.” The New York Times 17 Jan. 2019: A23. Print.
Smith, J.J. “4 Steps to Successful Employee Relationships.” SHRM, SHRM, 01 July. 2018, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/fourstepssuccessful.aspx