So, How Does That Make You Feel?

Sometimes I lament to clients that I have to fight against the reputation of being “touchy-feely” in my work. Once classified as touchy-feely, I can lose the respect of many in the business world. And, for the record, I’ve never sung Kumbaya at the end of one of my sessions, nor have I engaged in any form of group hug.

But my work does engage the “softer” side of organizations, and it is true people have cried at some of the sessions I have facilitated. Some have jokingly suggested that my role is partly as a “therapist.”

Now, my Mom is a therapist, so I have some exposure to and respect for that field. It makes me proud, frankly, to be compared to a therapist. But let’s be clear—I was not trained as a therapist and the work I do isn’t therapy.

But psychology is definitely a part of what I do. It was a part of my studies in both conflict resolution and organization development because, not surprisingly, both involve human beings. It may be hard to believe, but as human beings, we don’t leave our psyches (or hearts, or minds) at the door when we come to work. That’s why psychology (and the “soft” stuff) is a part of my work and should be a part of the normal focus in business.

As I said in yesterday’s post, I am glad that these things are going more mainstream. There is a feature story in HBR about the “inner work life” written by psychologists. I’ll write about it next week.


  1. 01.06.2007 at 12:34 pm

    Really insightful post! It made me think about what has kept me as engaged as I have for as long as I have. I think any field that deals with the intricacies of systems and people that interact with them are inherently the most challenging and most rewarding. Psychology may revolve around the “softer” side of things, but I’ve yet to encounter a system or set of processes more challenging to work with than people.
    As with any field I don’t think you should define yourself by the methods or approaches you use to achieve results and/or success. It apparent that you are a professional so I don’t think you need to be too concerned about how you are perceived beyond that.

  2. 05.06.2007 at 5:35 am

    Hey Dave, thanks for the comment. Yes, I’m not really too worried about a reputation as “touchy-feely.” All I really worry about is doing good work and making a difference.