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Why Emotions Belong at Work

Emotions are what make us human. Let’s learn how to use them for better decisions and honest workplace relations

We are told that work is not a place to show your emotions. It’s seen as unprofessional and unproductive. Yet emotions are part of the human package. When we develop our emotional intelligence, we can discern what those emotions mean and use them for beneficial gain, says Laura Rees, assistant professor of organizational behaviour at Smith School of Business. In this video, Rees makes the case for more corporate training in emotional intelligence.

Video highlights

0:16 Emotional intelligence involves accurately reading someone’s emotions and interpreting them. “We express emotions for a lot of reasons, and the more emotionally intelligent we are, the more we can discern what those emotions mean.” 

0:58 When people express themselves emotionally, they are usually told to separate emotions from work or that “it’s just business and nothing personal.” Yet business and emotions are intertwined. Research shows that if the part of the brain that processes emotions gets damaged, cognitive thinking can be compromised.

1:42 Initial reactions are processed by system one thinking and tend to be emotional. Only when the deliberative mindset of system two thinking kicks in do we react cognitively. But both contribute to how we make decisions. “Emotions are not irrational or unprofessional.” 

2:30 It is healthier and better for decision-making if we recognize emotions, accept them, interpret them and use them in a productive fashion. Unfortunately, “it’s not something we train our leaders or employees to think about.”