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Why It's Good to Express Negative Emotions at Work

According to an Expert, It's Good to Express Negative Emotions at Work


If you've ever kicked off in anger or frustration in front of your co-workers, you may have felt rather guilty afterwards. But apparently, expressing negative emotions in the office isn't so bad after all.

London Business School behavioral expert, Michael Parke, says that when employees can't be themselves, it makes them less enthusiastic about working. "The usual preference is to display the positive side of our emotions," he says. "But there are consequences. When someone can't express their true emotion, it prevents them from being their authentic self and can lead to frustration which demotivates them. If politeness and a fake sense of happiness prevail, it can actually create greater social distance between colleagues."

Furthermore, being open about anxiety and stress, can help indicate priorities.

"A healthy sense of danger, worry or suspicion in small doses can keep people vigilant, particularly useful for organizations that regularly encounter risk, such as the police and security firms," he said during a podcast. "Honest expression of negative emotion can encourage creativity and innovation, improve work productivity and even boost growth through conflict. Frustration signals to others that there is a problem, which can attract more resources, for instance, which can spur on innovation."

It doesn't mean random outbursts should occur all the time though, he explained that it only works if line managers make it clear when it's a good time or environment to really open up, and the correct way in which it should be communicated.

"Leaders should try to create an authentic, experiential climate, whether it skews to the positive or negative side," Parke continued. "This requires a long-term commitment. They need to set the parameters for how and when people open up at work.

"Importantly, leaders should be ready to deal with these emotions when colleagues start opening up. Candid feedback sessions are a great opportunity to practice sharing authentic feelings."

Who says you always have to be positive?

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Grace Hitchcock
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