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There's No Coat Rack for Emotions

If you’ve been reading our blogs about emotional intelligence, you know that there are several benefits to using those skills in the workplace. Being emotionally intelligent helps create greater self-awareness. Acknowledging your emotions, not as good or bad, right or wrong, but as a source of information can improve your ability to connect with others, make clear and objective decisions, and increase your ability to manage stress which can result in becoming more adaptable, resilient and encouraging. 


In addition, being attuned to your emotions has been shown to increase success at work and in your personal life because it provides a way to understand and assess your and others' behaviors, communication style and social skills. In fact, emotional intelligence is one of the top ten skills required for the workforce because learning to deal with emotions in the workplace can be key to effectively leading people.  


While society has been working to bring people back into the workplace and make us comfortable with bringing our emotions to work, we still set up barriers to stop ourselves from doing so. But there’s no coat rack for emotions at the door, so let’s look at three common barriers that prevent us from being comfortable sharing our emotions, even knowing that they’ll be carrying them throughout the day: 


1. Fear of Failure

Nobody is perfect. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves or our leaders. Mistakes are bound to happen, and we should be able to welcome failure as a learning opportunity. How? An emotionally intelligent way is to acknowledge and reflect on what happened; this shows self-awareness and a willingness to improve. Bouncing back and learning from mistakes can develop resilience. By overcoming a fear of failure, teams can emerge more resilient and self-aware, and leaders will be cultivating a culture of learning without being afraid to fail, which can spark innovation within the ranks of their team.  


2. Vulnerability as a Weakness

It’s time to let go of the corporate persona, the personality we display at work. The workplace is changing and we’re now getting a glimpse into the personal lives of the people we work with and for. Leaders especially need to ease off their corporate personas and begin to unveil their true selves. Showing vulnerability is not a weakness but rather a demonstration of courage. Brene Brown defines vulnerability as "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Vulnerability is the willingness to show up and to be seen, even when there are no guarantees." Transparency needs to exist within teams to build confidence, stimulate problem-solving and decision making.  


3. Is it Only Me?  

A third common reason people refrain from showing emotions at work links to authenticity and comparison. You can’t predict or assume the emotions of those you work with. You will never know how others feel until you ask. Being emotionally intelligent is about being able to normalize showing emotions at work.  


Think of emotions as data, not as good or bad. They can provide you with interesting information about how people or ideas are triggering you. With that data, you can make more conscious choices of how you will respond or act.  


Let’s be honest, emotions run in the background during our everyday lives at work, and if we choose not to acknowledge or cope with our emotions, there can be a reverse effect – we create higher stress levels, which can lead to poor communication and potentially an increased risk for health problems. For instance, if we feel angry and do not cope with the feeling, the anger will snowball and intensify the next time we feel angry, potentially doing more harm to our relationships.  


So how do we overcome these barriers? Start small; it can be as simple as showing appreciation for your team members (yes, appreciation is an emotion and proves that not all emotions are bad). Recognition and appreciation can go a long way and encouraging them to do the same can kickstart a chain reaction. While it may be intimidating to be the first one to begin expressing emotions at work, every journey starts with a single step. So go ahead and bring your emotions with you to work.  


Emotional Intelligence is a critical skill. Being emotionally intelligent helps you make authentic human connection by knowing who you're talking to, how to communicate effectively, and how to bring out the best in others. Emotional Intelligence helps you put the good of the organization first by understanding how to talk to your key stakeholders and get projects done more effectively. Emotional Intelligence plays a huge part in treating change as a process, not an event, by helping you understand where everyone is in their change journey. 

If your organization needs you or someone you know to build these skills, please check out our Changemaker Certification Program to learn more! 




Topics: Communication & Collaboration, Emotional Intelligence

Faye Howard

About the Author

Faye Howard

Faye has a master’s degree in training and development and has held multiple roles in training, curriculum design, customer service and marketing throughout her 25+ year career. As a trainer and facilitator for Your Clear Next Step, you’ll see her energy come through as she teaches people the skills to be a better version of themselves, motivating them to leave a positive, lasting impact on others. Faye has made her home in Pella, IA with her husband, Seth, and their 3 boys since 2005. Faye is an encourager and intentional about influencing those around her. Therefore, in her free time, you’ll find her in the stands cheering on her boys in various activities, enjoying a walk or cup of coffee with a friend or immersed in a good book pulling out nuggets of wisdom.








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