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Factors Initiating Emotional Processes

While filtering iteratively the data in quest of emotional processes, it became evident that without an appreciation of factors initiating emotional processes, any subsequent processural understanding is likely to remain incomplete. Two factors stood out in this respect, namely, (i) courage and (ii) honesty about individuals’ own emotions and thoughts, as outlined below.


In terms of a presence of courage, several participants shared similar experiences. For instance, Sally spoke of her experience in dealing with a colleague at work from a different department, with whom she had to produce a policy document. Following some misunderstandings about her intentions of changes to the document, she noted:

I said: Well I think we should meet for a coffee and talk it through. And that was extremely difficult because I’m absolutely adverse to confrontation. I really didn’t find that comfortable at all. But it was really ... interesting that we sat down. It was very difficult at first.

Confronting unpleasant situations emerged also in David’s account. He shared an example with regard to the link between courage, the expression of work-related frustration, and stress relief. The situation in question pertained to a workshop led by senior management, which he saw as a cause of that work-related frustration on the restructuring of the organization. He said (in front of 20 colleagues):

“You’ve been talking about this for a long time and you’re achieving nothing” ... “Why don’t you just get on with it, if you’re going to do it, do it” ... I could see the room fall silent. One of my colleagues ... said, ‘You’re like Wolfe Smith out of Citizen Smith’, an old television program, power to the people ... I don’t normally get on my soapbox and argue, but it’s a great stress buster”.

The above quote indicates that speaking truthfully (which requires courage) in such a situation was seen by David as source of stress relief.

However, there were several accounts that suggested, just as some participants displayed the courage to confront uncomfortable situations, others struggled with it. One informative account stems from Martin:

When I was younger my father died which in itself is obviously life changing . As a person I felt it was a time when . your emotions were most on public display and I ... reacted to that by completely ... shutting off any ... emotional response when I was in public ... Looking back on it all that happened was that the grief was just buried until later and came out over a number of years. And these insights you only have with age and experience, but it would be nice to talk to that young man and explain what he was going through and how things would change and what was the best.

Despite him being now an adult, this reflection still did not come easily to him, as underlined by the swallowing speech pause before the last word in the above excerpt, which in itself was uttered in a quivering voice. It appears that Martin decided to suppress the emotion-eliciting event for a long time.

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