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Do Emotions Belong In Business?

Dear Liz,

I am a Human Workplace follower and a disciple of yours! I would like to get your opinion on the question “Do emotions belong in the business world?”

I was a theatre major in college and got involved in arts management when I graduated. I was lucky to get a job in the Outreach department for the opera company in my city.

I still perform at night and on the weekends with local theater groups.

After two years at the opera company I took a new job with an event management company, and that’s where I’m working now.

Liz, I work hard for my clients. I set up large and small events and take care of every detail, from working with the venue to planning the content and entertainment to lighting, marketing, seating, catering and keeping everything within the client’s budget.

I have close relationships with my clients and they tell me that the events we plan together are major competitive advantages for them as well as high points in their customers’ calendars.

That’s why I want your opinion. I throw myself into my work. My boss says “Blake, you don’t have to be so emotional” or “Blake, keep the emotion out of your argument” but that viewpoint makes no sense to me.

If we take all the emotion out of business, it’s just numbers, and numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

I don’t get angry or contentious or whiny or weepy at work, of course. I keep my conversations and my email  correspondence professional.

When my boss says “Blake, don’t be so emotional” he’s talking about me pushing a vendor or caterer to make something important happen for a client, or about me pushing him (my boss) to make good on a client commitment.

My boss doesn’t want me to rock the boat, so he says “Go with the flow. Every little detail doesn’t matter.”

To me and my clients, though, every little detail does matter — the details are what keep our clients coming back to us year after year.

I also notice that my boss doesn’t hesitate to show emotion when he’s angry, frustrated or even when he’s happy about landing a new client. Why is he so comfortable showing his emotions but he doesn’t want me to display any emotions myself?

I’m a creative person and my job relies on creativity — am I supposed to through the day like a robot, operating on pure logic with no emotions in sight?

What do you think Liz, and how should I handle this energetic disturbance between my boss and me?


Your avid fan,


Dear Blake,

The late, great comedian George Carlin used to tell this joke about driving: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anybody going faster than you is a maniac?”

We are tuned to our own channel. We convince ourselves that wherever we want the dial to be turned (whether we’re talking about the hot/cold dial on the thermostat, the mild/spicy dial when we’re eating Thai food or the dial for the appropriate show of emotions at work) is the perfect spot for everyone.

Your boss isn’t aware of his own emotions or the way he displays them at work. Many working people are the same way.

They might yell or thunder when they’re upset about something, but half an hour later when they’ve calmed down they’ll coach a team member “Don’t let small things upset you.”

People like your boss can dish it out, but they can’t take it! They can’t or won’t look in the mirror.

They don’t realize that everybody brings their emotions to work and that there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as we are professional and compassionate, it is wonderful to be emotionally connected to our work.

That’s how we keep our batteries charged!

Your boss may not know that he only makes his impressive numbers at the end of the month because of the emotion you put into your work. Your passion for your job benefits your boss every day.

You know what I always say, Blake:  ”Only the people who get you, deserve you!”

You are a champion events planner and your clients know it. You bring a theatrical flair and excitement to your events that your clients appreciate — so if your boss doesn’t appreciate it too, why would you want to stick around?

You can’t easily get people to see what they don’t want to see. Your boss’s advice to keep your emotions out of the workplace is a veiled way of saying “Your passion for your job makes me uncomfortable.”

That is fine. Life is long as our Buddhist friends say, but it’s too short to spend any of it trying to change your boss’s personality.

If your manager thinks you’re too emotional, he or she can’t see the passion and drive that fuel your emotions and that also fuel your amazing client events.

You have happy clients and undoubtedly, testimonials for your work as an events planner.

You can begin preparing for a 2016 job search now or dive in and be working at a higher-altitude job by the time New Year’s Day comes around.

God bless your boss! His inability to understand the Passion-Performance Connection will be the nudge that gets you to take your one-person show to a bigger theater — one where your flame can shine more brightly.

Rather than hoping your boss changes his view or trying to squash yourself in a tiny box to please your fearful manager,  your job is to find a new opportunity where your leaders are just as excited about your emotion-powered events as your clients are!

I will be eager to hear about your new job in a place where the leaders understand that it’s only when staff members get emotionally involved that great things can happen. The sooner you start looking for that place, the sooner you’ll find it. We are cheering you on!

All the best,


This article was written by Liz Ryan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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