Being Emotional at Work Has Gotten a Bad Rap

January 20, 2021

I don’t know about you, but my feelings are close to the surface and not so deeply buried.

Being Emotional at Work Has Gotten a Bad Rap

Here’s the messy truth about human beings. We are emotional. Now picture the Venn diagram of Work and Emotions. Only the tiniest sliver overlaps. And that slice is generally aggressive with a smattering of compassion. I don’t know about you, but my feelings are close to the surface and not so deeply buried. Blanking myself out when I get to work was just too hard. After several spontaneous and emotional reactions, I realized nothing terrible happened to me.

So, when I was promoted, I wanted to encourage my team to be more whole. Here is a part of what I said to them.

“I learned that showing emotions, being vulnerable, not sugar coating the truth is a powerful way to connect with others. It actually enhanced my standing. I have come to celebrate my inability to routinely tuck away huge parts of my personality. It is mostly useful, sometimes disarming and seldom horrible. When I was younger, being so intense and expressive made me feel odd and different. Now, I see it as an asset. I’ve learned how to manage it, so I don’t get into trouble.”

Our emotions make us human. Without that we can’t connect to others. Without others we can’t do great work. This is what keeps it real. Or, in the immortal words of James Brown, “I feel good. I knew that I would.”