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The Usage of Emotional Appeal in Communication

Emotion and Mood

Both emotions and mood are terms used to describe feelings. The former can be described as a more intense and focused type of feeling that arises from a particular stimulus; mood does not require a stimulus and tends to be less intense and can have a longer duration (Robbins & Judge, 2014). The mood can stem from emotion and have the potential of affecting the person’s emotional responses. For example, an employee may have had a bad night’s sleep because his neighbor was listening to music. He was angry and frustrated because of the neighbor and the lack of sleep; these emotions transferred to a grumpy mood, which affected his response to a joke of his colleague and made him feel more offended (another emotion) than he typically would. Positive emotions have a positive impact on decision-making, motivation, job satisfaction, workplace relationships, and work performance (Robbins & Judge, 2014). Negative emotions decrease the possibility of positive workplace outcomes both in the terms of relationships and the working process (the Chu, 2014). Therefore, managers may want to affect employees’ feelings, and it is not impossible.

According to Robbins and Judge (2014), the sources of emotions are multiple. Some of them are out of a manager’s reach: for example, the weather. Personality cannot be changed either, but it may affect the manager’s approach to a person. The levels of stress, rest possibilities, social activities, and even physical exercise can be used by a manager to affect the employees’ mood. Also, a manager can work to create a positive team and use humor to maintain its spirit. Besides, arranging an EI training might help employees to learn to control and manage their emotions. For managers themselves, EI may be necessary since there is a difference between felt and displayed emotions, and a level of sensitivity is required to manage employees’ feelings.

Current Issues

Emotional appeal is one of the pillars of leadership that helps to communicate the message, motivate, inspire, and build better relationships with the employees (Robbins & Judge, 2014). Modern inspiring leaders realize the importance of emotional appeal, and their actions and speeches are in many ways aimed at evoking emotions and managing them properly. An example is the coming-out of Tim Cook (2014), the Apple CEO. In his notes on the matter, he actively appeals to emotions by telling his personal story, mentioning and citing significant public and political figures (Marting Luther King, for example), and discussing the issues that arise from the lack of tolerance (in particular, fear and abuse). He diminishes his role in pro-tolerance activities but insists that similar coming-outs had helped himself, appearing humble but confident and committed as a result. More current events include Howard Shultz’s “Email to Employees” and his speech on the American Dream.

Shultz, Starbucks’ CEO, is known for his humanistic views (Bariso, 2015). The Email encourages his employees to be more understanding when working with customers and support them and each other during the current economic situation. Shultz refers to Starbucks as “we,” begins by appreciatively discussing what “they” have achieved, proceeds to make his request concerning the service, and finishes by picturing his vision of “their” future. His rhyming signature “Onward, Howard” is unique, inspiring, and appealing (Bariso, 2015, para. 12). Similarly, Shultz’s (2016) speech on the American Dream is very personal and emotional (refers, for instance, to tolerance), contains the inspirational vision of reviving the American Dream, the realistic steps that his listeners can undertake, and a call for action. In this speech, Shultz (2016) uses a variety of literary devices: similes (“viewed the American dream as a reservoir”), metaphors (“share your blanket with others”), repetitive syntactic constructions (“regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of their religion, regardless of their gender”), and others ( Shultz, 2016, para. 11, 12, 15).

These examples demonstrate how modern leaders use emotional appeal to communicate their messages (business- or vision-related), build stakeholders’ trust, convince their audience, and make a difference. The analysis of leaders’ speeches can help to develop one’s tools of emotional appeal.


Bariso, J. (2015). Starbucks’ CEO Sent an Extraordinary Email to Employees During the Stock Market Chaos. Inc.. Web.

Chu, L. (2014). Mediating toxic emotions in the workplace – the impact of abusive supervision. Journal Of Nursing Management, 22(8), 953-963 11p. Web.

Cook, T. D. (2014). Tim Cook speaks up: “I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others”. Bloomberg Business. Web.

Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2014). Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Schultz, H. (2016). Starbucks’ Howard Schultz: How we can reclaim the American Dream. CNN. Web.

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