​Is It Okay to Show Your Emotions at Work?

A workplace can be such an emotional environment to be in. There’s the boss who is constantly breathing down your neck, a demanding customer, or perhaps a tight consequence-laden deadline—all of these can lead to some really testy time at work. For the unlucky ones, such negative energies can last their entire career with the company.

When you encounter stressful problems at home, you are naturally free to react however you want. You can shout, cry, clench your fists, even kick the door off the hinges if you want (it’s your stuff after all). Reacting in such ways at work is another matter entirely because they can be harmful not only to your productivity and reputation but to your job security as well.

But this doesn’t mean that you should totally refrain from showing your emotions at work. On the contrary, emotions—when properly channeled—can be a key ingredient to professional success. That said, when it comes to expressing how you feel to your colleagues, you have to remember three things:

• Be sincere with your emotions

• Do not overreact

• Your way of expression must foster connections, not divisiveness

Stressful situations are part and parcel of working life. As they pile up, it can become harder and harder to keep your negative emotions in check, but it’s even more critical for you to do so. Should the need to lay off employees arise, you can bet that upper management will favor those who can handle their emotions well and remain productive even under pressure. And ultimately, regardless of the gravity of the situation, you can always decide how you react to it.

When is it okay to show emotion at work?

Although releasing frustration is healthy, extreme expressions of emotions at work are still widely viewed as unprofessional. Companies want an employee who can do his or her job well, and it’s challenging to attain if that employee is angry, sad, or moody all the time.

You may ask, why is it that only negative emotions need to be curbed? That’s because positive emotions, such as joy, enthusiasm and optimism are easier to manage for most people. Not only that, they affect others in a positive way, often enhancing communication, collaboration, and teamwork among employees. With this in mind, here are some examples of when you MUST show your emotions at work:

• Showing excitement to get people on board

• Encouraging and inspiring employees to strive for higher levels of performance

• Upholding good personal values

• Recognizing other people’s good work

As long as you can use your positive emotions to drive professionalism and productivity in the workplace, feel free to show them whenever you want. Your colleagues likely won’t mind. In fact, they may even thank you for it.

So how do you manage negative emotions?

Anger, sadness, annoyance, disappointment—everyone experiences them. Yet as soon as they are expressed in the workplace, alarms go off. The ability to keep emotions in check is a powerful skill to have not only at work but in life in general. Here are different strategies you can use to deal with negative emotions in a way that won’t be detrimental to your career and success.

Pause for a minute

One of the best things you can do to keep yourself from breaking down or lashing out is to stop and evaluate your actions. Breathe deeply, and give yourself some time to get through your delicate mindset. Ask yourself why you feel like this, and be specific with your answers. Avoid replaying the memory of the unfortunate situation in your mind, and if necessary, distract yourself to clear your thoughts and calm down.

Remember past experiences when you felt frustration

Think about the times you felt just as strongly about something, but didn’t scream, cry, or vent. The situation probably turned out just fine, didn’t it? And if you did react destructively, it probably didn’t do much to alleviate the situation, right? Your feelings of irritation or frustration didn’t help back then. It’s highly likely that they won’t do you any good now.

Surround yourself with good company

The people you choose to have around you have a massive impact on your life. For instance, if you’re always around co-workers who gossip and complain, start avoiding them. Their negativity will only bring you down, and being with them will be detrimental to what you are trying to achieve through positive thinking.

Look on the bright side of things

Take a different perspective and find something positive about the situation. Accepting that bad things can and will happen, and that they are a natural part of life, can help you relax and be more at ease. Take a lousy work situation as an opportunity to grow as a person. If you take this optimistic viewpoint, you will always win, regardless of how the situation works out.

Focus on finding solutions

Speaking of positive thinking, why not brainstorm ways to prove your worth as an employee? Issues don’t resolve themselves, and it can be unhelpful to expect others to solve them for you. Take charge of a problem, and choose the best way to tackle it. When you put the responsibility of finding a solution on yourself, you are likely to get the results you want while influencing events with your decisions and actions. You’ll also have little time left for negative thinking.

Everyone has to cope with negative emotions at work, and learning how to manage those feelings is important. After all, no one wants to be around a person who spreads negativity. Know the reasons behind your emotions, and learn strategies to disrupt them as they begin to appear. Don’t wait too long to react, because the longer you do, the harder it will be to distance yourself from negative feelings.

Recovering from an emotional breakdown at work

A violent outburst at work has its consequences, but these don’t have to be career-killers. If the pressure in your current job or work environment is getting to you, instead of isolating yourself or wallowing in self-pity, why not take it is an opportunity to finally switch careers? But before applying for another job out of desperation, evaluate yourself and ask what you’ve always wanted to do.

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