Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Mixing feelings with work? Never! Society traditionally tells us to keep our work and home lives totally separate, which ends up making a lot of people feel like they can’t bring their feelings with them to work situations. Good luck with that!
Whether work is your solo interactions with clients or integrating in a larger organization’s team framework, the following strategies apply. Also, we can only feel part of the spectrum (such as joy, inspiration, and optimism) if we are able to feel the whole spectrum of emotion (including fear, anger and disappointment).
Trying to bypass our emotions at work results in us holding our breath, feeling utterly inauthentic, and dis-enfranchised. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can actually own our feelings and take appropriate (key word) action as a result, without destroying our career or our reputation.
Here’s the reality: Feelings are inevitable at work. Just like any situation in life, you’re going to experience feelings and emotions in your work environment. You can’t always act on these, but you can embrace them and know when and how you can express them.
Go Directly to the Source
If you need to have a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with somebody, your best bet is to cut to the chase – in person – not in an email or text. Go directly to the source and ask to discuss the experience of the situation from both of your viewpoints. One caveat to this approach, however, is to not do so in the grip of intense anger or fear.
Office politics tend to confuse and exacerbate the situation, and it’s much better to involve yourself directly with someone rather than engage in gossip beforehand. Because you’re in an office environment, you can always set up a meeting with your coworker or boss to hash things out. Otherwise, if you prefer a more casual setting, ask to get coffee or go for a walk outside of work.
Be Calm and Know Your Stance
Work environments can be stressful, but even so, they don’t have to disrupt your calm disposition. Consciously going into a discussion with a sense of calm is really important. You may be taking a bold stance, and that’s perfectly fine. But you should make sure you stay calm about it and don’t get heated. Be confident that you know what you’re doing, and don’t let that change as the conversation begins to take form. This is possible when you take a moment before an important conversation to center yourself, and breathe deeply, becoming fully present.
It is also important to recognize that although you have a stance, others may not agree with it, no matter how effectively you present it. The most empowering component of knowing your stance is that you embrace it, not that you overpower or manipulate others into embracing it. When you are able to voice your opinion confidently, regardless of others’ buy-in, your self-esteem and credibility grow enormously. Detachment from a particular outcome actually grows your influence over time.
Remember Your “Why”
At the end of the day, you and all of your coworkers are there for the same reason. You’re not trying to disrupt the structure or success of a project or the organization, nor are you trying to stir up unnecessary drama.
You, clients and your teams all have a “why” or a reason to be there. Your role is important to you, so try to remember this throughout each conversation. You’re trying to work through this and talk it out because you want to create a solution, not place blame, or rehash the problem ad nauseam. Solution moves you forward. Blame and keeping the focus on the problem are backward-focused. The faster you move into forward, solution-focus, the greater the sense of collaboration, relief and motivation for everyone involved.
We’ve covered three big strategies for expressing your feelings at work, but they’re not limited to work. All relationships have tremendous similarities when it comes to navigating our emotions. As you learn to express them confidently in the work container, every area of your life will benefit.