Here is why you need to be emotional at work

publication date: Dec 19, 2018
author/source: Kathy Archer

Emotions is probably not a topic most of us want to discuss. In fact, we'd like to be able to tame our emotions, so they don't come out of nowhere and embarrass us! We want to be the one controlling the on/off lever of what we are feeling. But darn-it, emotions seem to run us, more than we run them! As a result, we often lack self-confidence.

We believe emotions are a sign of weakness I’m a crier. But crying is associated with weakness. Crying, and in fact, most emotions, most of us think are not appropriate in the workplace. Oh, it is ok to bring your cheerful, sunny and fun-loving self into the workplace, sometimes. But those emotions are considered strength emotions. They show we are tough, strong and capable of enduring busy times and challenging situations. However, we all know that certain emotions like anger, hurt, fear, shame, devastation and dissatisfaction need to be checked at the door.

My anger just about got the best of me When I was managing a team and a number of programs, we had our ups and downs. Some downs were more impactful than others. In one situation, after a year of being the service provider on a new initiative, we lost the contract, and it was awarded to our competitor.

When I heard the news, I was devastated. I had put my heart and soul into that project. I was heartbroken. I was angry. In fact, I was very angry. I was furious with the funder, the other agency that now had the funding, my boss, my team and yes, myself.

Unchecked anger at work can wreak havoc What I didn’t realize at the time what that I was feeling a sense of grief and loss as well. In losing that contract, I had lost a part of me. Back then I didn't know how to deal with that grief. My anguish came out as bitterness, jealousy, stubbornness, sarcasm, and hostility. A passive-aggressive insult slipped out here. I dropped a short-tempered comment there. My pessimism grew, as did my indifference. I didn't really care much anymore.

I lacked emotional intelligence When I was going through this loss, I was not aware of how emotions worked. I couldn't identify what I was feeling much beyond the 4 basics: Happy, sad, mad or glad. But look back at the rainbow of emotions I've used in the previous paragraphs.

• There is a dramatic difference between feeling sad and feeling devastated.

• One can feel overwhelmed by their workload or paralyzed by it.

• I can be annoyed with my staff or seething.

Understanding the difference is critical.

Becoming emotionally smart When you become "smarter" about which emotion you are actually feeling, what it feels like and what triggers it, you are way better able to manage it. In this way, you become emotionally intelligent.

Emotional Intelligence is when you both recognize and manage your emotions. Read that again...recognize & manage. You need to be able to identify your emotions before you can manage them.

We try to tune out our emotions We spend so much time trying to shut off our emotions, push them down, brush them aside or numb them out. When we try to avoid our emotions, they don't go away. They fester. Annoyance with a staff, left not dealt with, turns to frustration. Suddenly you are infuriated with them one day, and you lose it on them. Then dripping in shame and embarrassment, you wonder where the heck that came from? It came from not recognizing and managing the annoyance two weeks ago!

Leadership Development Coach Kathy Archer provides ongoing training to grow women leaders in Canada's Non-Profit Organizations. Kathy's online Training Library offers affordable, relevant, and practical new content every month to keep leaders engaged, excited and expanding their leadership capacity and deepening their personal growth.

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