Coming in at #5: Never Show Your Emotions at Work.
That old chestnut.
Let’s start with the first tripwire: crying at work.
In her book, Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World, Jennifer Palmieri, former Communications Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, sees crying as a signal that the person cares deeply about their work. As she tells it, her office became known as the “crying room” because so many female staff members used it to let it all out so they could move on with their jobs. She says, “No one I worked with—man or woman—thought anything of it other than a human reaction to the inhumane crush [of a presidential campaign]. No stigma was attached to anyone who had to use the crying room.”
What we’re all striving for is a healthy emotional culture at work; a culture that allows authentic displays of emotion – both positive and negative. And the research backs it up. For example, Kim Cameron’s research at the University of Michigan found that organizations that discourage compassion and gratitude have higher staff turnover rates.
We could easily have titled this post, “Leave your baggage at the door.”
The advice to compartmentalize our feelings ignores the fact that we are all emotional creatures, and it only works if the feelings are mild: slightly irritated or mildly uncomfortable. Even then it’s hard to rebound, and all we have to show for our effort is a mood hangover, and everyone asking, “Are you OK?”
The better advice is to express our feelings in a constructive manner. (We know…hilarious!)
If you have an emotional outburst, don’t berate yourself afterward. Instead, discover what caused the reaction and then follow up with the necessary parties to offer an explanation. This gives you the chance to clear the air, and ask for what you need.
Marshall Rosenberg coined the term Giraffe Language to describe this type of communication because giraffes are not predators nor are they very often targets, and they have a much better sightline (and allegedly a big heart). Here’s the four-step process:
Share your OBSERVATIONS (of the situation or what made you upset)
Describe your FEELINGS that resulted from the situation or actions of others
Express your NEED for something new, different, better – be specific
Make a REQUEST of the other party so they know you are serious: “Can you…”, “Will you…”
Our final note on this topic: let’s continue to support each other. Everyone needs a friend at work who will be there to listen, support us, and help us get back to normal. Those friends are the best, and nothing good comes from feeling all alone.