Embracing Emotions in the Workplace | Queen's University IRC

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Embracing Emotions in the Workplace

Kari D. Boyle, Queen's IRC Facilitator
Publication date: August, 2020
Embracing Emotions in the Workplace

During one of our Strategies for Workplace Conflicts programs, a participant commented that she told her staff that she didn’t “DO emotion!” I really appreciated her forthright statement which led to a valuable discussion about the place of emotion in the workplace. How do we handle the expression of emotion? Are emotions welcome or not? How do we handle an emotional outburst in a meeting or deal with strong negative emotions between two co-workers in conflict? How do we deal with our own emotions?

Emotions are part of being human. We are wired to feel. Many of us are not in close touch with our feelings, often because of our upbringing. Are you familiar with the phrase “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”? Emotions can spring up suddenly and may pass just as quickly. Yet, if they are not dealt with, they may fester and intensify.

Consider your workplaces during the pandemic. Can you name some of the emotions that you are experiencing? What about your employees or team members? I’m guessing that fear, frustration, loneliness, grief, and exhaustion may be present. There may also be some positive emotions such as relief (from avoiding long commutes for example).

In this article I’m suggesting something that may seem counter intuitive. Rather than avoiding or squelching the expression of these emotions, try leaning in and welcoming them into your workplace.