By Katy Shaddock

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.” -Dave Barry

As women, we no longer question our right to vote or own property. In the movie Nine to Five, the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigoted executive gave a derisive snort when Judy, Violet, and Doralee described the flexible work arrangements implemented during the coup at Consolidated. Today’s employers of choice have expanded that menu – not as a concession, but a selling point necessary to attract top talent.

And yet, according to research at Yale University, women who express emotion in the workplace are viewed as less competent or worthy of advancement. The prevalence of social media and the decreasing boundaries between work and personal time create the feeling of being “always on” – each interaction becomes a benchmark of personal performance.

It’s not healthy or realistic to avoid conflict in work or personal relationships. Emotions – anger, disappointment, frustration, fear – are powerful tools when expressed appropriately. Use these five questions to determine if now is the time to speak your mind, or if you should wait until you’ve had time to cool off:

1. Are you sleep deprived, hungry, overwhelmed, anxious or feeling stressed about a separate issue? If so, hold your emotions in check. Check for understanding and ask the other person to reconnect later in the day to revisit the topic.

2. Can you effectively express your emotions, or are you at risk of losing your temper? Emphatic and passionate conversations can deepen relationships and achieve results. Insults, generalizations, attacks and rants are not effective problem-solving tools.

3. What is your goal in expressing your emotions? You don’t necessarily need a grand conviction to convey, but if your goal is simply to make sure the other party knows you are, in fact, extremely angry and feel quite justified in saying so, apply sparingly for maximum effectiveness.

4. Are you putting yourself at risk, personally or professionally, by expressing emotion? In volatile personal relationships, romantic or otherwise, your personal safety is of greatest importance. At work, consider the person to whom you’re speaking and the nature of the issue, and the impact to your career. Remember to bring a solution to the problem – this reinforces your value and expertise.

5. Are you posting about this issue on Facebook, Twitter, or any other public forum? If so, delete, go forth and post no more! If not, take a moment to celebrate your restraint in what is undoubtedly an excellent story that will forever remain off the internet.

Your emotions are valid, and worthy of your attention and care. If you find yourself frequently angry, frustrated, depressed, or anxious, consider speaking with a counselor for unbiased feedback.

Remember, the best “someecards” came from stressful and negative situations. Be sure to capture this source material as either interesting anecdotes for job interviews, or distractions during tense moments at family gatherings.

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