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When did emotional become synonymous with unprofessional?

Written By: Lauren Howard

Every so often, I get a frantic LinkedIn message or email.

It's usually from a woman I met here asking for a few minutes.

Just to "talk things out" or "get some guidance." They're always distressed and have a sense of urgency.

The answer is always yes, but we don’t always connect immediately because schedules.

By the time we do, the shock of whatever happened has worn off, and the story I get is very different.

That day, I would have heard that a toxic boss or leader crossed a line, made them feel small, reinforced that they weren’t sure this was the right place for them, etc. etc. etc.

They may have talked about an untenable situation, harassment from someone in the workplace, or frustratingly opaque systems that were burning them out.

A few days later, I hear that things are fine. They just had a knee-jerk reaction. This boss is problematic but it’s okay. The job is fine. It was just a bad day.

They usually apologize and say they feel so silly for even wasting my time.

Basically, invalidating their feelings because they have been taught to.

I want to say that that is bullshit.

Sometimes people cross the line and say something that hurts you.

Sometimes, you are right in feeling undermined and undervalued, but we are conditioned to believe that you are not entitled to those feelings.

Sometimes, your outrage is entirely warranted.

We are taught that it’s okay because we’re getting paid for it. It’s a job, and jobs aren’t perfect. You can’t have feelings. Your initial reaction can’t be right because it’s probably irrational and emotional.

When did emotional become synonymous with unprofessional?

Maybe you have emotions because people have emotions and you’re not a robot.

Maybe you’re angry because you have been harmed, and anger is a valid response to being harmed.

Maybe the 1900s version of professionalism is not something that we should strive for anymore.

If you reach out because something happened, you don’t have to dampen that experience and apologize to ME for having a reaction.

We honor authenticity here. And sometimes being authentic means screaming four-letter words and recognizing that you may not actually be the problem, but you are definitely the solution.

And sometimes it just means getting it all out to someone safe and then going about your day.

It doesn’t mean buying into the idea that reacting makes you crazy or unbalanced or difficult or unprofessional.

You can put the return label on that bull and send it back to whoever shipped it to you.

We’re whole people, even at work. And those words are rarely hurled at your male counterparts.


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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