Project Practitioners > Passion vs. Emotion

Passion vs. Emotion

By Ann Drinkwater

Passion versus emotion, do you know the difference?

The Merriam Webster online dictionary lists emotion as "a disturbance, excitement, feeling, a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body." Passion is closely defined as: "the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces, an emotion, intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction, a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept, and an object of desire or deep interest." The biggest difference in these definitions is that emotion is a mental reaction and passion is the action resulting from strong emotion (often liking and desire).

Someone who is passionate is comprehensive on the subject and entrenches him/herself in the subject. Someone who is emotional on the other hand, may have a strong opinion about a person or subject, but often doesn’t have objective backing. They may have a feeling towards something based on their belief system – good or bad. A passionate person can sell you on their idea and make you believe in it. Passion is typically a healthy outlet for emotions. Passion is the act that you pursue in relation to your feelings and desires. For me, it applies objectivity and reason to emotion.

Emotion often carries a negative connation, whereas passion is viewed more positively. Emotion is essential, but we must keep it in check, especially in the workplace. Below are some key points on the topic:

  • Everyone should understand emotion is a normal and healthy reaction. It is what/how we respond that can be an issue.
  • Fire and drive are essential to great success. Instead of dwelling on the negative side of human interactions and events, we should look to passionately turn negative situations into learning experiences and pour ourselves into areas of interest.
  • We are most successful in areas of our life we believe in (are passionate about). Look for a career you are genuinely interested in and where you can become the top of your field. This interest and desire will be transferred to those around you, creating a strong, healthy foundation for yourself and your team members.
  • When you are emotional, you have often lost your composure or ability to productively communicate your viewpoints. When you are passionate, you are aware of your mental state and have made a decision to stand up for something.
  • The key to being in control in the workplace is to be aware of your reactions and positively respond to your emotions. Turning your strong desires into objective cases, will go a lot further than ranting about an idea or topic, based on subjective measures. Sell your organization on your idea and the value it will bring.
  • Don’t direct your thoughts and communication towards a person, but again keep it objective and on the driving force behind ‘why’ you have these strong reactions.  

Don’t beat yourself up if you do become emotional. If we didn’t care so much or have such strong opinions, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Awareness that you have crossed the line is key. Use the situation to take a step back and remind yourself that there are better ways to communicate and to convey your message. The big thing to reminder is to remain positive and to use your personal attachment on topics towards improvement.

A good example for me is that writing is my passion. It allows me to analyze my emotions and to write about subjects that I believe strongly in.

~Ann Drinkwater


Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Hello, my name is Drabuziu Taisymas
 Very interesting piece!! Stress is a normal response to difficult situations. We often confuse it as some form of mental pressure caused due to our own inability to deal with things. But that’s not what it is. Stress is not an action, it’s a reaction. Stress is our reaction to various external factors.
Before we get to the whole coping part, first we need to understand a few things about stress that are essential.
According to me Stress is not always bad.
Stress is the body’s way of reacting to a challenge. When faced with a tough situation, there are a whole lot of reactions that the body goes through. Increased pulse rate, adrenaline boost, faster response to stimuli and among those, stress is one.
But the same stress that ‘stresses us out’, also makes us quicker and more prone to handle situations better. Stress makes us do our best. So it isn’t always a bad thing.

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