Emotions Matter: A Case For Crying At Work

Appearing on Forbes.com, June 20, 2017, by Sara Whitman.

“Are you crying? There’s no crying. There’s no crying in baseball!” Tom Hanks’ voice playing Jimmy Dugan in “A League of Their Own” rings through my ears every time an employee starts to tear up at work.

It reminds me of what a ridiculous notion it is to try and suppress emotion. Yet, so many people try and try again. When it happens in my organization, I actively encourage people to express their emotion as quickly as they can.


1. It’s our nature. Humans are emotional beings. To try and stifle that can result in a host of negative effects. Think anxiety, anger, depression and more.

2. It helps you move through the experience. When the negative emotion is able to move out, it acts as a release valve and makes space for the positive emotions to flood back in.

3. This is what it means to bring your whole self to work. Employees want to work for companies that allow them to be themselves, to express themselves and to be accepted in the process.

4. It’s the truth. Truth builds trust. Trust is the foundation of all good relationships. And good relationships lead to good – no, make that great – work.

This doesn’t mean cursing, yelling, and other blow-up behavior is acceptable (Note: I’m a believer of this in all aspects of life, not just at work). It simply means there is a way to express negative emotions in a more productive way and to manage through them.

Think of it as a step-by-step process. Take one step at a time. When you do this, it breaks the big, overwhelming issue down into smaller pieces that are much easier to follow and replicate over time. It takes practice, and you may not always succeed, but every small win builds resilience, aptitude and improved emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

Where to begin?

When negative emotions arise, remove yourself from the situation. Step away. Close your email. End the call. Walk out of the room. Even when the situation is happening in person and you can’t hide behind technology, you can still step away. A simple “Excuse me for a moment,” or, “Can we finish this later? I have to step out for a minute,” can work wonders and give you an opportunity to calm down and collect your thoughts before reacting.

Find a safe place, and let it out. Take a walk around the block. The fresh air will help provide a new perspective. Visit a trusted colleague or leader. I have what I call a “crying chair” in my office. It’s a light-hearted joke for people who are struggling, so they know I’m OK with people releasing their emotions so they can feel better. The faster the emotion is expressed, the easier it is to let it go.

Read the article on Forbes.com.



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