You probably think of emotions as something that have no appropriate place in the business world. Usually, we think of being professional as being outwardly devoid of emotional reaction in emotionally charged situations. Certainly, you can’t – or shouldn’t — publicly throw temper tantrums. However, there are some situations where it’s good to show some emotion at work.
Anne Kreamer, the author of It’s Always Personal, Navigating Emotion in the Workplace, “Since the recent study of emotion, we’re beginning to understand that the old-school sense of the workplace as rational and everything outside it as appropriate for emotions couldn’t be more wrong. In the workplace, whether you’re pitching a new concept or negotiating a deal, emotion is involved and important.” In other words, there are some situations where showing emotion can be important.
Employees often say that they relate more to bosses who show emotion. That doesn’t mean crying at every disappointment or yelling frequently – it just means maybe letting yourself show frustration when things aren’t working out or showing enthusiasm when there are positive developments. It’s doesn’t make you unprofessional; it just makes you seem more relatable to employees.
If you do find yourself in an embarrassing situation where you end up crying at work, just remember that you aren’t the first and won’t be the last ever to do it. In fact, 41 percent of women admitted to crying at work in the past year. Although only 9 percent of men admitted to crying at work, that is partially because women have much more prolactin than men, and prolactin is an important hormone related to crying. Men also have smaller tear ducts, so their tears are less likely to course down their faces even when they do cry.
To avoid awkward situations like that, if might be good to excuse yourself if you feel that you may cry. If you can’t, though, try to regain control as quickly as possible and ask pointed questions about why the other person said what they said. Trying to take a proactive role in gaining control of the situation can be key to negating the feelings of humiliation and loss of control that often accompany crying at work.
Remember, there’s no avoiding the existence of emotions; they are an evolutionary instinct, hardwired into us. Now emotions aren’t necessary helping us survive predators, but the principle is the same when we harness our emotions to survive stressful work environments.