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Can You Share Your Emotions at Work? The Time I Cried in Front of My Boss

Updated: Mar 11



The realm of professionalism and the landscape of personal emotions often seem like two parallel lines that should never meet. However, as humans, our emotions don’t come with a convenient on-off switch we can toggle based on our location. The workplace, despite its structured environment, is still a place where humans with feelings interact. So, what happens when these worlds inevitably collide?

I vividly recall the first time my emotions burst forth in the least likely of places – right in front of my boss and a handful of colleagues. My vision blurred as hot tears made their descent, my voice wavered, and my lips trembled. The air grew thick, the silence deafening, and all eyes fixed on me.


The varied expressions of those in the room spoke volumes. There were looks of empathy, faces that mirrored my own distress, and others that displayed sheer surprise. But I felt there were also a few who seemed to silently ask, "Is this really the place for tears?"


The weight of the moment was not lost on me. I was all too aware of the unwritten rules of the professional world: "Keep it together," "Don't show weakness," and "Leave your personal life at the door." By the end of the day, I was a bundle of self-reproach. How could I have been so vulnerable? I'm stronger than that. What would this mean for my professional image?


Hours turned into days, and the initial embarrassment began to fade. However, the internal dialogue didn’t. Why, in a world where we champion authenticity, vulnerability, and emotional intelligence, was there such an unspoken stigma around displaying genuine emotion at work? And wasn't it ironically inauthentic to suppress genuine human reactions in a place where we spend so much of our lives?


Of course, there are arguments to be made about maintaining a level of professionalism. No one is suggesting that the workplace becomes a free-for-all of unchecked emotions. But there's a middle ground—a space where individuals don't feel the need to hide or suppress their emotions for fear of judgment or professional repercussions.


The incident served as an eye-opener for me, not only about my own relationship with vulnerability but also about the broader culture of workplaces everywhere. It led to several introspective and enlightening conversations with colleagues. Some had similar experiences, while others spoke of the armor they wore every day to avoid such situations. But one thing became clear: Emotions, when expressed constructively and authentically, can foster deeper connections, understanding, and even lead to improved professional relationships.


Looking back, I would never categorize that day as a display of "weakness." If anything, it reinforced the idea that strength is not in the suppression of emotions but in the courage to express them and the wisdom to navigate them constructively. For leaders and colleagues alike, perhaps it’s time to shift the narrative from seeing emotional expression as a vulnerability to viewing it as a strength—a testament to the authentic, multifaceted human beings that make up our workforce.


To anyone who has ever felt the weight of their own emotions at work, remember this: It's okay to be human. Embrace it, and let it pave the way for more authentic connection

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