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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
24
It's Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace
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on September 22, 2016
In-depth analyzing view at factors that shape our workplace in regards to the exception of, or inclusion of emotional expressions, from the perspective of biology (how our bodies are wired), gender (differences in both wiring and workplace history) and personality types (similar to Briggs-Myers system), with examples as part of the main narrative to illustrate a principle.
Distillation of best practices in regards to controlling/ managing emotions and how to channel them to our advantage in the form of a 'toolkit', and in general a please for a more inclusive workplace culture, in terms of emotions (both positive and negative) that author describes into great detail, i.e.; fear, anxiety, anger, compassion.
With lots of references to scientific studies and related other commonly known concepts (i.e. EQ, or emotional intelligence, Mars & Venus, etc.), as well as the inclusion of two personally initiated studies (specially for this book), it reads as a very solid affirmative argument for allowing emotions in the workplace, for the benefit of the people as well as (yes) their business.
A good starting point as well as reference for anyone aiming to bring about change, if only in oneself, thereby upping their chances of success in day-to-day struggles, with a lot of useful tips, ranging from the body-mind to the spirit.
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on April 12, 2011
I could neither read IT'S ALWAYS PERSONAL fast enough because it is so compelling, nor slowly enough, so much did I want to memorize it -- all 234-information-packed thought-provoking pages. No sentence is a waste. And I didn't want to put it down - because I was reading about me, and you and our emotions in the context of the massive amount of research that Anne Kreamer has culled from myriad authoritative sources. She thought about this material, interpreted it and put it together so deftly, I found tears running down my face halfway through the book, a book that could change your life. At the least it will make you feel less alone if you ever think you screwed up emotion-wise on the job or elsewhere. It will help you better understand yourself, your emotions and those of others in the workplace, which -- Kreamer notes - is increasingly everywhere, because of the mobile communications boom. In fact, Kreamer, herself says, she was relieved to learn that she "was probably born tense." She also writes about emotion management and the differences between how men and women are wired with a refreshing and calm voice and an oeuvre that wakes you up with surprise after surprise. I hope she writes a lot more books.
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on April 29, 2011
The core challenge facing business organizations today, at least in the U.S., is that human beings have become the paramount source of enterprise value -- yet business culture hasn't had time to catch up with the realities of human nature. To be blunt, people didn't matter much in business until recent decades. The state of the art of unlocking value from people remains primitive: nobody's yet cracked the code. It's the equivalent of IT in the 19th century.

Kreamer's book takes on one important piece of the problem: the emotional nature of human beings. More specifically, the intolerance of human emotion at work. Always an issue, it has become even more critical with the dramatic increase in the female working population. (Gender issues are an important thread in this book.)

As Kreamer observes, correctly in my view, the typical workplace frustrates people. Instead of addressing human issues, business leaders too often avoid them, relying on denial, pretense, and a veneer of rationality to evade the unavoidable.

This is a good book -- brief, well-argued, and clearly intended to contribute to solutions. For people struggling with emotion at work, there's plenty of thoughtful advice. Its orientation is more to self-help and action than to theory, which probably makes it more useful.

Business culture is urgently in need of some consciousness-raising. This book will help. Pass it on.

Full disclosure: I know Anne Kreamer personally. She interviewed me for the book, and I participated in the research survey. I'm delighted to say that I think the conclusions she draws from her research are entirely sound.
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The title of this review was excerpted from one of Daniel Goleman's most important books, Emotional Intelligence, in which he observes, "What's changing is how we are socialized in emotion, which traits are valued or devalued because cultural norms shift with historic trends. And because do experience and express emotions more freely, it makes sense that as women occupy more positions of power the expression of emotion in the workplace will become more acceptable."

What we have in Anne Kreamer's book is a rigorously rational as well as heartfelt and sensitive examination of one of the most powerful - and least understood - paradigm shifts in the U.S. workplace: As the nature and extent of women's authority in the business world increases (albeit slowly), so will the nature and extent of acceptance of authentic emotion also increase. For as long as I can remember, one of the several double-standards in the gender/blender has been that which tolerates (thereby condones) workplace certain values, attitudes, and behaviors by men but not by women. Worse yet, women who aspire to hold C-level positions have adopted many of those values, attitudes, and behaviors to achieve their career goals. Big mistake.

Early on in her book, Kreamer reminds us, "Darwin and James understood that our emotions, far from being irrational or unimportant, are universal tools that help us read cues [if we are alert] that allow us to successfully navigate our environment. They established, in other words, the oft forgotten notion that emotional fluency can mean the difference between survival and death, or success and failure, and that it therefore figures importantly in evolution."

Kreamer identifies and discusses several emotional types (Spouter, Accepter, Believer, Solver) and provides several sets if tools that can help readers manage their emotions more effectively. She also includes material about map-making for those struggling to "navigate" their emotions in the "new workplace." To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, all workplaces and their workers are unhappy in their own way. That said, many (if not most) workplaces could - and would - be much happier if everyone involved could express honest, sincere, and authentic emotion without fear or even concern.

According to Kreamer, her book "explores these differences in our individual emotional wiring and through a deeper understanding of the six primary workplace emotional flashpoints - anger, fear, anxiety, empathy, happiness, and crying - offers a blueprint for how each of us can remain true to our individual temperament while nevertheless developing the means to be more effective within the social context of work." I agree with her that we [begin italics] can [end italics] rational about our emotions, "especially at work."

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Kreamer's coverage.

o The History of Emotion, and, So What Is Emotion? (Pages 23-30)
o So What IS Anger? (51-56)
o It's Not Me, It's You (58-61)
o From Bad to Better (63-66)
o What Is Fear? (74-75)
o Real and Present Danger (80-82)
o What Is Anxiety? (95-98)
o Second-Guessing Yourself (100-104)
o The Power of Positive Thinking (106-108)
o What Is Compassion? (115-118)
o Why Being Honest About Compassion Is Good for You and for Business (126-128)
o The Four Profiles -- Which One Are You? (157-164)
o Learn to Objectify Your Emotions (173-174)
o Laugh and the World Laughs with You (191-193)
o The Next Wave (208-211)

Before concluding her brilliant book, Kreamer shares a compelling vision with a hope I share: "If we can openly acknowledge our gender-based biological and neurological differences, we can feel free to tackle whatever challenges we face at full capacity...Both genders can win by granting the other -- and, for women, fellow females -- a greater range of expressiveness on the job. And women and men can both be freed to bring their full, true selves to the game. Isn't it time for us all to get a lot more rational about emotion? The prospect of that happening makes me so happy I could cry."

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that Kreamer provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to establish and then sustain a pursuit of improvement that is constant, tenacious, and collaborative, at all levels and in all areas of operation.
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on October 24, 2017
Not sure why but I haven't had the desire to read past chapter 2...sorry!
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on August 23, 2015
I admit I first picked up this book only because it was our book club's choice for that month. But it quickly drew me in with fascinating research (and I thought I was pretty much "in the know" on this topic). Although some of the advice was rather underwhelming and the part about crying being ok a little trite, it was a very well worth my time and I truly got a lot out of it.
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on February 5, 2017
I chose a rating of three because while I felt the topic was relevant and the interviews were good situational examples, ultimately I walked away without concrete ways of actually managing toxic work personalities and that environment.
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on May 30, 2017
For anyone navigating the daily grind of the workplace this is a must read. Wished I had this information years ago. This is a definite workplace tool for survival.
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on July 19, 2013
I read this book after borrowing it from the library and then had to buy a copy so I could highlight and re-read the best work advice I have ever seen.
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on March 29, 2011
"It's Always Personal" (Random House, March 2011), Anne Kreamer's newest book, gets to the heart of our emotional lives in the workplace. It's a fascinating account of the tears and fears most of us struggle to suppress when we're in the office. As a former corporate executive and someone who now coaches business leaders, I understand this landscape well. Kreamer has meticulously researched her subject, includes real-life examples (in full disclosure, one of those examples belongs to me), and further provides Emotional Toolkits with each chapter, ideas and strategies for managing our emotions at work.

Kreamer opens the book with her own experience as a senior executive at MTV Networks, a division of Viacom run by the mercurial Sumner Redstone. She paints the picture of a triumphant deal and celebration with her colleagues after months of labor when an unexpected phone call arrives from Redstone. Could it be congratulations for a job well done? It wasn't to be. The Viacom Chairman reamed her from bow to stern because the deal announcement had not created an up tick in the stock price. She was in a word, devastated.

As Kreamer makes clear, we can't we have a conversation about emotions in the workplace without raising the issue of gender. She asks a provocative question, "Have you ever cried at work?" It's the inquiry she made of me during her early days of research and one she posed to many others in her pursuit of understanding what happens to our emotional selves when we cross the office threshold. In answer to her question, I have certainly wanted to cry at work but with the exception of some prodigious "welling up", have never done so. I believed then (and a part of me still does) that it was not allowed, that I would lose credibility in the doing. And therein lies the rub. Kreamer explores the issue of gender in the workplace from both an emotional and neurological point of view. Women are in fact, wired differently, she states. This is not to recreate the debacle of Larry Summers and the women in the Harvard engineering department. It is to say, as Kreamer illustrates, women who have succeeded in getting that corner office, have often done so at the expense of their own physiological and emotional makeup, shortchanging, sometimes short circuiting themselves in the process.

In order to lend some heft to what Kreamer was seeing in her interviews, she enlisted the expertise of J. Walter Thompson, a global ad agency, and specifically their Brand Intelligence Department. An investigation was launched that revealed four different emotional profiles, based on the WEEP typology created by Kreamer and the JWT team. To take the survey go to [...] The emotional types, "Spouters", "Solvers", "Accepters" and "Believers", are often corollary to the corporate culture in which we thrive (or oppositional in those we do not). Most of us, like Kreamer herself, have a toe in more than one type.

Critical to the topic is the seminal work of Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence became the buzz word of the late 90's and finally gave language and power to intuitive intelligence, something that Kreamer says is more prevalent among women than men. While she is careful to state that Goleman made no distinction between men and women in his work, she does however cite advances in neuroscience made possible through fMRI technology. The ability of science to watch a live brain while is it registering various stimuli has provided hard proof to the differences in male and female brains, and the wisdom offered over the last four decades by social psychologists. Our behavior and specifically our decision making is an emotional process, a useful and perhaps alarming data point for those who still believe that logic is king.

Most psychologists would agree that resilience is the single most important attribute in emotionally healthy people. This supports the old adage that it's not what happens to us that is important, but rather what we do with what happens to us that is. Kreamer offers solid strategies for improving emotional equilibrium and resilience, the core of which seems to be remaining attentive to one's emotional state. This attention allows us to scan for emotional triggers and even physical precursors, such as hunger or fatigue. This kind of self-awareness, coupled with the willingness for men and women to express a more full range of emotions at work, might head off work place implosions - and even lead to an environment where both genders can operate in a "tag-team model", leveraging the gifts and hardwiring of each.

"It's Always Personal" is a smart book and useful for anyone (male or female) who either leads a team or is part of one. Whether in business, non-profit or volunteering in the community, we are all in the people business. Read this book! You'll be glad you did.
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