No, You Don’t Have to Turn Off Your Emotions at Work

Most of us are emotionally invested in our jobs, and for good reason. Professional success impacts our well-being, happiness, and sense of purpose. However, expressing emotions at work can sometimes open up the floor to different interpretations, especially if your work environment doesn’t encourage vulnerability. 

Questions about emotion that may come up include: 

For me, I think we can sometimes become so focused on holding it all in — masking our natural responses — that we forget the ways expressing emotion can help us build trust, strengthen relationships across the board, inspire focus, and learn from failure. 

Don’t Turn Off Your Emotions

Perhaps the answer is not to show all your cards (i.e., every emotion you experience at work), but to communicate authentically. If you can be authentic and compassionate, you can be more honest and genuine while considering yourself and others. The key is to allow the emotion but not be controlled by it. Suppressing or repressing doesn’t work!

Leaders should define the right balance for them and then strive toward it with intention. 

Ask yourself, how can I…

Understand what I’m feeling and process it in a way that creates space?

Understand what others need?

Express myself openly so others can relate?

Here are four tips: 

  1. Be aware of your emotions. Take time to identify your emotional response, then reflect. What caused the feeling? Was it an appropriate response? Did it help you accomplish your goals?
  2. Consider who you aspire to be. Then, consider how you can move between where you are today and where you hope to be in the future. There is where a leadership coach can make a huge difference. They can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and serve as a mirror to reflect them back. 
  3. Ask for feedback from your peers. Use their input to make necessary adjustments to your leadership style. 
  4. Value the needs of others, and focus on their goals and behaviors. Authenticity is most powerful when you hold space for yourself and others.

Learning to strike a balance between emotional regulation and authentic expression can make you a more formidable leader. So, next time a strong emotion arises at work and your knee-jerk reaction is to turn it off, don’t! Instead, be intentional and authentic. Your ability to inspire loyalty often comes from expressing honest emotion.