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7 Ways Not To Be Emotional At Work


Toxic workplace? Personal issues? Poor company culture? Overworked? Simply having a bad day? They are all recipes for a potentially emotional experience. The big problems arise if you happen to have an emotional moment in the workplace. It can be as simple as having a cry at your desk or having a more dramatic outburst and yelling or throwing papers across the room. If you feel like you are one day away from something like this, then don’t worry, this article will help you to manage your emotions at work so you will always come across as cool, calm and collected.

I am naturally a very emotional person, thus suppressing my emotions is not easy, even in the most professional setting. Some people are skilled at hiding their emotions; they wear a mask, or put up a wall and you would never know what they were truly feeling. Not me!! I sit there seething, laughing or crying for the world to see. Don’t get me wrong, I am not on a roller-coaster of emotions, however, there are moments in my life where I am angered, frustrated, upset…as we can all get.

After all, it is human nature to have feelings. But how and where is it appropriate to show those feelings? Many would argue a workplace is not a space to be expressing anything other than professional behaviour. What happens if you show one emotion that is deemed ‘unprofessional’, such as crying at your desk? Suddenly, you become the emotional individual around the office. Any other positive behaviour you had will be shadowed by that “one time you cried”.

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I do believe that crying is a healthy way to express your emotions and let go of stress, resulting you to return to your day with ease. However, many may be embarrassed, uncomfortable or strongly feel it is unprofessional to do so in the workplace.  Worse yet, what if your emotions are not one of tears, but ones of anger and aggression, this can cost you your job!

So let us break is down – what is considered a professional behaviour in the workplace?

Simply put – professional behaviour at work is separating your personal life from the business. You limit your relationships in the workspace to business context only. You do not bring in your non-work-related personal matters or other inappropriate topics into the workplace. You respect other peoples’ space; you present polite manners and focus on the business work at hand.

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So it would be safe to say, any emotion other than the focus on your paid employment is not suitable in the workplace. However, being human, it is not always easy to put aside emotions and personal feelings, we are not machines. This is why so many workers have admitted to crying in the workplace. As much as nearly 83% of us have confessed to crying at work. With that, half have declared they cry because of their manager / supervisor, the work itself, the culture, or caused by other co-workers.

So whilst it is deemed inappropriate to cry at work, it happens more often than we would like.

So instead of me telling you to not show and express your emotions, I will share some ways on how to handle them and express them in a professional manner.

  1. Your personal feelings are just that – personal. So be mindful of whom you want to share them with. Chances are, people in your workplace may be indifferent to your feelings, may laugh at them or not know how best to manage them. Work is not the place to seek guidance and support on personal matters. However, sometimes you cannot wait until the day is over to let out how you feel, so instead of finding a coworker to share your feelings with, I recommend you find a place that feels comfortable and safe, away from others. It may be in your car, an empty meeting room, bathroom, or you may go for a walk and find a bench somewhere to sit, breathe in the fresh air and take a break.
  2. Find someone to talk to. A great way to clear up your feelings and to face the next day stronger and refreshed is to find someone outside of the workplace to talk to. It could be a family member, friend or even a professionally trained psychologist. Talking it out and getting it off your chest is a healthy way to release your emotions.
  3. Yoga, meditation and exercise. Calming the mind, healing the soul and sweating it out is a great way to build strength to control and tackle those hard days. It really does work. If you would like some extra guidance on how to control your stress, we have a nifty guide that can help with just that. This 11 Ways To Handle Stress guide can be downloaded for free.
  4. Getting good sleep is so important. You are a lot less sensitive when you are well rested. You will have a lot more control over your feelings when you are functioning at 100%.
  5. Walk away. The best thing to do is walk away from a negative situation before things are done and said that you could regret. Walk away and let the space between you and the situation calm down before you tackle the issue.
  6. Evaluate what is causing your issues. Is it a toxic workplace? Do you not enjoy the job? It may be time to remove yourself from the negativity. You would not stay in an abusive or toxic relationship, so why is your employment any different? With so many jobs out there you do not need to stay in one that causes you daily emotional grief.
  7. Choose your words wisely. There are ways you can communicate with others that can either escalate a situation or de-escalate one. For example, if your manager asks you to take on a project you can’t manage you can either say “sure”, or speak with emotions that will look poorly, such as “I can’t handle any more work, you always give me too much!” or a third option, you can choose a professional, calm approach “This project seems very interesting, however, I have a big project at the moment which is taking up a lot of my time. I am worried I may not be able to provide the attention it all needs. Can you see if there is someone else who can take the project and I will provide them my support where I can, or is it possible for me to start it a little later?”


We hope you have taken the solutions into consideration and are able to implement one or all of the points. Your mental health is important, so is your experience in a workplace. If you can put your best, calm foot forward, it will help you  grow your career in a smoother manner.

If you need any assistance in finding employment or a best suited career match, MCA are always here to help, as we are not just career coaches, we are your career partners. See how we can help here.

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“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.”

– Pema Chodron