The Seven Universal Human Emotions

According to one theory, there are seven universal human emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.

At work and sometimes in everyday life these emotions are filtered because of social conditioning.

In the West, men are not supposed to feel fear or sadness.  Men who express fear or sadness are called wimps.  Women are not supposed to feel anger or contempt and if they express anger or contempt they are called bitches. This oversimplifies, but it is roughly true.

Because certain heart-felt emotions are not considered becoming, not expressible, they are concealed from others.  I call this concealment the distance between  heart and face.  When men feel fear (“I am afraid that I will lose control when transitioning to Scrum”) they may transmogrify this disapproved emotion into contempt (“Scrum will not work in my organization because it does not make logical sense”) since they are not allowed to express fear.

When my face and heart are not in alignment this can cause confusion: the person I am communicating with receives a mixed message.  One thing is said, but a different thing is picked up emotionally. Creating an environment that supports the Scrum values of openness and courage reduces the number of moments when face and heart are mismatched.  This both speeds up communication and enhances the integrity and happiness of all concerned.

Michael de la Maza

I am an agile coach and an angel investor. As an agile coach, I have consulted and trained at dozens of companies. Major agile coaching engagements have been with Paypal, State Street, edX, Carbonite, and Symantec. I typically begin with culture first and then proceed to process improvement and business results. I believe in a non-confrontational, non-coercive approach to change in which people are invited to be and act in a new way. This takes the pain out of agile transformations.

With Rob Rubin, an online education pioneer and the Founding VP of Engineering at edX, I recently created DemingWay.com, an online agile education portal that we plan to grow until it has the best agile content and the best learning platform.