2021-01-29 HR Examiner article Heather Bussing If you cant handle emotions at work the problem may be you stock photo img cc0 by AdobeStock 292224521 544x341px.jpg

“Consider emotions as energy you can use to change things. Emotions can be superpowers. Here are some of the negative emotions that we typically shun at work, and the positive aspects of moving through them.” - Heather Bussing


If you can’t handle emotions at work, the problem may be you


It’s understandable. We are scared of losing control, or looking bad, or making things harder than they already are. We don’t like drama or conflict. We need to focus on the work. All of those things are worth considering. It takes practice to use emotional energy constructively. (This may be my biggest understatement ever, but I’m trying to point out that it’s possible.)


Expecting people not to feel or show their emotions at work is crazy. As another friend, Paul Hebert, pointed out: “Why do we hire people then ask them to . . . wait for it. . . not be people?”


We can’t. It eventually leaks out one way or another. It always shows in the work.


So instead of denying emotions or worse, trying to fix them, consider emotions as energy you can use to change things. Emotions can be superpowers. Here are some of the negative emotions that we typically shun at work, and the positive aspects of moving through them.




  • Your heart is broken, so you are open to feelings and insight that you don’t see other times.
  • It brings reflection on what is important and what’s not important.
  • After the tears, grief often brings clarity and renewal.




  • Heightened perception (senses)
  • Precision focus
  • Increased awareness of everything around you
  • Can include excitement
  • Maybe a portal to a flow state once you realize that you’re not in danger




  • Crystal clarity about other people’s role in what happened (less so about your own).
  • A burst of energy
  • Can create a long term commitment to change or righting a wrong–passion- that lasts longer than just a good idea
  • Can be convincing to others (up to the point that you create fear in them)
  • Can protect you from further hurt or repeating the situation




  • Giving up can be a wonderful thing.
  • Not giving a shit can also be a wonderful thing– the point of no concern.
  • Going within to heal is essential to working through difficult issues. In other words, it’s not a problem, grief is a sign of healing.
  • Our resources are limited so we must choose carefully where to spend your energy. This helps you understand what matters and what doesn’t.
  • When your worst fears come true, then there’s nothing to be afraid of.
  • Giving up all hope is one passage to freedom.




  • Loneliness can force you to make friends with yourself.
  • Missing people allows you to see how much you love and appreciate them.
  • There’s a kind of insanity that comes with intense loneliness that’s sort of fun once you realize there’s nobody around to judge you.




  • Hatred helps you find exactly where your boundaries are or need to be.
  • Hatred gives you clarity.
  • Hatred helps you insist that something change or that something happen.
  • Hatred gives you the courage to get rid of people and things that should not be in your life.




  • Shame can show you where your wounds are and point you in the direction of healing.
  • The pain of shame can push you to find tools to deal with both the feeling and the people who use it to manipulate you.
  • Shame can make you aware of your mistakes. It’s like a highlighter. You can examine your role in a problem and let go of it. It forces you to reexamine the stories you tell myself and decide what’s true.




  • Vulnerability brings you closer to yourself and others.
  • It creates a safe place for other people to get closer, even though you don’t always feel comfortable there.
  • Vulnerability may not be the right word, because it implies a fear of being hurt or at least a risk. Sometimes just feeling curious or open feels like there is a risk of being wrong or judged.
  • What would you say is the most accurate measurement of courage? Brene Brown has a great quote about vulnerability?


“The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage. When the barrier is our belief about vulnerability, the question becomes: ‘Are we willing to show up and be seen when we can’t control the outcome?’ When the barrier to vulnerability is about safety, the question becomes: ‘Are we willing to create courageous spaces so we can be fully seen?” – Brené Brown




  • Learn your limits.
  • You break. Which is often part of a break-through.
  • You are forced to rest. And rest and time are essential elements to almost all creative processes- ones that are not optional, but we always try to take shortcuts in the name of “efficiency.”


All emotions are powerful energy that bring us important information. It’s time to bring our humanity to work.

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