Getting Emotional At work - Is It Professional?

04 June, 2019
Gpayroll - emotional
Have you ever come across an employee who happened to be sobbing at work? Or perhaps having a minor mental breakdown? What were your initial thoughts? Did you think that the employee was weak or immature? Or perhaps the behaviour is acceptable so long as it does not happen often?

According to research done by The British Psychological Society, they found that “tearful individuals are seen as warmer, but also as less competent”.

However, it appears that top executives and employees have a difference perception when it comes to shedding tears in office.

Based on a survey from staffing firm Accountemps, about 44 per cent of respondents, whom are Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have mentioned that “shedding tears is acceptable as long as it is not an everyday occurrence”. This figure is higher compared to 38 per cent of workers who felt that crying at work is acceptable as long as it does not occur too regularly.

Additionally, it seems that top executive are more receptive to employees crying while at work – with only 26 per cent of CFOs indicating that crying is never acceptable at work as it is perceived as a sign of weakness or immaturity, as opposed to 32 per cent of workers.

The research also seem to suggest that age is a factor in how employees perceive crying at work. Older workers (who are age 55 and above) are more likely to think that crying does not affect their reputation. However, only a small proportion of younger workers, with only 25 per cent of workers aged between 18 to 34 and 31 per cent of workers aged between 35 to 54 have the same perception.

Half of the workers have lost their temper at work

There are many reasons as to why an employee might show their anger and shed tears – be it tears of anger, frustration or stress – at work. Most employees attribute the main root of their anger to a particular colleague at work, while others attribute it to an overbearing boss, demanding customer or an unreasonable external vendor.

Given that it is only human for emotions to get the better of one, it is inevitable to have emotional outbursts even while in office. However, how an employee respond and move on can demonstrate professionalism, emotional intelligence and maturity. This can even earn newfound respect from other colleagues at the same time.

Should you ever come across a difficult situation whereby your emotions might get the better of you, here are some suggestions to handle these scenarios with professionalism.

A competitive colleague

If you find yourself at constant loggerheads with a particular colleague, perhaps one suggestion would be put yourself in your colleague’s shoes. At certain times, putting yourself in a different perspective might help you relook at the issue with a fresh mindset and this could eventually clear the air between your colleague and yourself.

The piling workload

All of us are no stranger to peak periods at work, whereby there are consecutive days of sleepless nights or working over the weekend. Instead of lashing out when your manager assigns more work, make it an effort to prioritise and delegate work where possible. Alternatively, speak to your manager so that he or she is aware of the situation and could shift the workload among the team accordingly.

A personal emergency

For some, sharing personal struggles with colleagues or bosses can be perceived as an embarrassment and there is also the fear that their managers might deem them as incompetent. However, being transparent, without oversharing, with your manager will allow them to better understand your situation and are likely to be more understanding in granting flexible work arrangements.

While it is acceptable to display emotions at work, frequent outbursts can be disruptive to the employees and may eventually ruin one’s reputation. However, thinking before reacting will not only help to save one’s reputation, it also indicates consideration and respect towards colleagues.