Emotion is the Message
I came to the Greta Thunberg party late, introduced to her by my kids. Until a few weeks ago I’d only seen her photo. As I looked at the still images of a teenager in braids I thought she could be on my daughter’s soccer team. Except she’s not. Greta is leading a global crusade, bringing people together across cultures and geographies, turning them out in the millions.
I read her story, learned who she is, and what she is saying. Words, I hear her words, and they leave me curious. I want to know more. I find her YouTube clips and listen to her message. She is blunt, and her word choice and sentence construction are simple, yet precise. But most of all she is angry, very angry.
We don’t often see anger on display, rarely from women, hardly ever from girls. Our leaders are trained to be polished, eloquent, and accommodating. We train them to keep their cool. We teach them. Answer. Transition. Message. Smile. Nod. Say, thank you.
Seeing anger, not out of control Howard Dean “The Scream Heard Around the World” anger, but fully channeled, entirely focused, unrelenting anger makes you stop and listen. Emotion can motivate more than reason. If authenticity is the gospel, why has media training become an exercise in repetition and over messaging? Is flattening the rough edges worth losing the edge?
When did great communications become about making everyone sound entirely reasonable?
When it comes to authenticity, transparency, and radical candor, leaders often like to talk the talk, not walk the walk. Greta’s anger spurred to action. Her emotion, as much as her words, rallied the energy of a diverse group of people and channeled it toward a singular cause. Leaders would be wise to learn from Greta. Message delivery is not about how deeply you think; it’s about how deeply you feel.