The Evolution of Emotions at Work: Be Intentional & Practice Pausing

For a long time, the idea of showing too much emotion has been seen as somewhat taboo, especially for women in positions of power. The narrative has been that emotions are somehow antithetical to logic or that they signal a softness that is not powerful or strategic; however, things are changing. Many converging dynamics, including the pandemic, have led people to reexamine their lives, questioning where and how they spend their time and energy, and how they show up at work. This turn toward authenticity can be messy, but powerful. It’s riveting, maybe because it’s so rare at work. It’s powerful because it truly connects us.

As a leader in 2023, your ability to inspire loyalty often comes from expressing honest emotion. Expressing your feelings in real time creates a level of humanity and connection with those around you. Of course, there are moments when staying calm and collected can create confidence in your leadership; however, stoic behavior, when overused, can come across as a lack of confidence or urgency, or even an inability to empathize or show compassion. Like most things though, it has its time and place.

Here are truths that many have come to understand and accept in the last five years: 

The key is to mindfully consider the timing and expression of your emotions — without burdening your teams or peers. This requires strong emotional regulation skills, which is something we can practice and build. 

Regulate Your Emotions

The key with expressing emotions in a professional setting is this — Be intentional. If you’re experiencing an intense, emotionally charged moment, your peers may not receive your full attention. Overall, similar to a complete lack of emotion, unregulated emotion can lead to disengagement. Thankfully, your ability to regulate those feelings can be strengthened like a muscle. The more you practice, the better you become at pausing before you react. 

Ideals like joy, love, belonging, and creativity — These things are becoming more a part of the conversation around career and workplace. Vulnerability is at the core of each, and fortunately, it seems like our culture is experiencing a shift toward increasing its capability to feel and express in the most authentic way possible.