Companies should get rational about emotions in the workplace

Spock: Really, Dr. McCoy. You must learn to govern your passions; they will be your undoing. Logic suggests…

McCoy: Logic? My God, the man’s talking about logic; we’re talking about universal Armageddon! You green-blooded, inhuman…
– Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn

 

So in the modern corporate culture of emotion, which is the best commander: the dispassionate Spock or the angry Dr. McCoy?

According to author Anne Kreamer, the “dominant management paradigm is to eliminate emotions at work.”
So Spock then? Well, not so fast.

A 2007 study suggested the angry doctor would be perceived as the best hire, but only if the doctor is a man and only if he gets angry and never cries. An angry woman would be perceived as out of control or an angry person while a man’s anger would be seen as justifiable.

Management scholar Blake Ashforth once wrote that it’s fiction that organizations are “cool arenas of dispassionate thought.” Kreamer agrees, saying the truth is that “in the workplace, we are bombarded with emotions, our own and everyone else’s.”

In her book, It’s Always Personal, Kreamer’s research found that the most common emotion in the workplace was frustration. Kreamer found that frustration and anger are the culprits behind another, somewhat taboo emotional expression: crying. When people cry at work it is most often related to frustration and anger, not sadness.

But if anger is the often the cause of crying, for women, crying usually is not the cure. Although crying should biologically produce some feeling of catharsis, women who cried at work feel worse. “…as if they failed a feminism test,” Kreamer wrote in Time.

Not only were women tough on themselves for crying, they were hard on others, too. In Kreamer’s study, 43 percent of women thought people who cry in the workplace were ‘unstable.’ And 32 percent of men agreed.
Kreamer concludes “For the moment, there is simply no socially appropriate way for women to express legitimate anger in the workplace.”

On the plus side, in Kreamer’s study, 69 percent of respondents felt that when someone gets emotional in the workplace, it makes the person seem more human. Further, 88 percent of all workers felt that being sensitive to others’ emotions is an asset.

Do you see emotions running high in your print shop? How do you best address this issue?

2017-05-08T15:01:55+00:00

About the Author:

Joe Kern

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