How to Know When Your Passion Is Working Against You

July 16, 2018

There are three warning signs that your passion is working against you.

You’ve probably heard this before – follow your passion.

It’s great advice. If you are passionate about what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

But, sometimes, passion – particularly around a stance or a piece of work – can work against you. Yes, you want to care about what you do and show that passion to others. But you don’t want your passion to cause you to become too inflexible or shortsighted.

How do you know when your passion has crossed the line, from helpful to hurtful? In her LinkedIn Learning course Professional Effectiveness Tips, Instructor Dorie Clark dedicated a lesson to this subject, giving three warning signs that your passion is working against you.

In a video in her Professional Effectiveness Tips course, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark explains how to make sure your passion doesn’t work against you.

3 warning signs that your passion is working against you

Three signs that your passion is working against you are:

    1. You view the situation as black-and-white.

When we really believe in something, we tend to ignore – and often even demonize – the opposition. And there is no middle ground – either people see things exactly your way, or they are against you.

None of this is true. First off, it’s likely the consequences of not siding with you aren’t as bad as you think. And second, it’s not a zero-sum game. Many times, a more nuanced solution can be discovered by tamping down that passion and looking at the situation more objectively.

“Being overly dramatic and eliminating all nuances doesn't make you more persuasive,” Clark said. “It makes you less, because you sound like you have an agenda.”

    2. You start assuming you know other people’s stance.

Here’s another side effect of too much passion – we tend to assume the other person’s point-of-view. And generally, the reasons we give to them having that view aren’t particularly positive.

As in, they believe that way because they don’t like me. Or, because they only care about themselves. Or, because they have some crippling personality defect.

The reality is that assuming is almost always a bad idea, and particularly in this case.

“You may have no idea how your colleagues feel about an idea,” Clark said. “And even if you support something and they don't, you may not really understand what's behind their opposition. You can't jump to conclusions. Instead of getting overheated, step back and ask more questions and try to see their perspective.”

    3. You lecture. Often.

If you are passionate about something, you probably have a lot to say about it. Although, remember – less is more.

If it is the time and place, you can give your spiel – although, even then, shorter is often more powerful. But lecturing about it every time the subject is even slightly broached is exhausting. And that will hurt your case, not help it.

“You'll find yourself branded the office fanatic, even if you're advocating for something sensible,” Clark said. “You have to choose your time and place and make sure others are in a zone where they're open to listening.”

Want to learn more? Watch Dorie Clark’s full course, Professional Effectiveness Tips.

Other lessons within that course include: