SURVEY SAYS: Showing Emotions at Work

We covered a survey which found emotional reactions are common in the workplace.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Have you cried or expressed anger at your workplace?”


Nearly three-quarters of responding readers have cried at their workplace, including 28.9% who did so privately, 13.3% that did so in front of co-workers, 13.3% who cried in front of management or executives, and 17.8% who cried in front of co-workers and management or executives. Nearly 27% of respondents said they have not cried at their workplace.


Asked if they’ve ever expressed anger at their workplace, more than one-third (35.6%) said they did so toward no one in particular, while 22.2% did so toward a co-worker or co-workers, 8.9% expressed anger toward management or executives, and 11.1% did so toward co-workers and management or executives. The remaining 22.2% said they have not expressed anger at the workplace.


Nearly three-quarters (73.3%) of responding readers think showing emotion in the workplace is fine on rare occasions, while 13.3% said it is always bad. Nearly 9% indicated they don’t know if showing emotions is good or bad for their career or others’ perceptions of them, but 4.4% said it is good to get out feelings.


Among comments left by readers were a few who said crying and anger often go hand-in-hand for them, and one who said, “It is amazing what the type of work environment can do for your physical, mental and emotional being.” Many readers said in different ways that emotions are bound to come out at work. Some offered examples of how showing emotions can lead to good results, while others said it is definitely not a good thing. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “For the anger question, I answered no, but I have been known to ‘vent’ to co-workers about someone or something. To me, venting is different than anger.”


A big thank you to all who participated in the survey!



Unfortunately, I cry when I get extremely frustrated and/or feel helpless. Unfortunately, bad management will do that to you. Unfortunately, they don’t care.

I hate that I cry when I’m angry or frustrated.

Sometimes it’s necessary to get your point across.

I had to explain a scheduled remote working situation to managers in order to respond to a serious event that hospitalized my mother, who lives alone, which revealed she had incurable cancer. I was fine to explain up to a point, then I was hit with emotion that left me teary eyed and having to pause for words. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t fully keep control.

You can get your ideas and feelings across without using anger and incorrect emotions. We’ve all done it, but the best plan is to keep them in check.

For the anger question, I answered no, but I have been known to “vent” to co-workers about someone or something. To me, venting is different than anger.

How is business not personal? How does work not lead to strong emotions?

We’re all human and showing emotions should be expected, especially during times of obvious stress or illness. (Like the day I snapped on my (then) nagging boss, when I came in for a special project though I had pneumonia and had been injured in a car wreck 2 days before.) However, people should be encouraged to “get help” when they are frequently “losing it” at work.

Occasionally, frustrations about policies and procedures lead to a brief outburst. Stupid stuff inhibits accomplishment. Showing this on occasion lets people know that you actually care about the quality of your performance, and the fact that management too often gets in the way.

My perception is that my showing emotions has reflected badly on me, but I appreciate more information on this topic.

Getting fired was the cause of anger.

I really hate showing emotions at the workplace. Unfortunately, they sometimes are hard to hide.

Management can be angry and mad. Employees cannot. Management can be happy. Employees can only be happy at the same things management is happy about. Management can be disappointed. Employees cannot. Management can’t cry. Employees can’t cry.

Sometimes a show of emotion is uncontrollable. If I could control it, I would. We are all human.

It’s encouraging to work with a team that understands that we all are dealing with stresses both on the job and outside of work. We can laugh together as well as come alongside to help in stressful times. If we were expected to be emotionless in the office, I wouldn’t want to work here.

It happens. When people spend 40 to 50 or more hours a week in the office, emotions of any kind are bound to surface because in life… things happen. If it bothers someone, they should try to console the person or ask them if they would like to take a walk to chat or show a little appreciation. And yes it does impact other’s perceptions of you. In my case, people realized I have feelings and am not a high functioning robot pushing work out. Everyone has a breaking point.

I’ve only expressed emotion when reporting to management about a coworker’s inappropriate behavior towards someone else. Had I not shown emotion, the issue may have been left unresolved. Showing emotions can thus be a good thing, as long as it’s honest.

Losing your temper is never acceptable. Expressing frustration is ok, but too much of it is just complaining and not professional. Crying is ok in rare instances of extreme emotion (positive or otherwise), but definitely can change the way a person is viewed in the workplace – whether for better or worse.

It all depends on how those emotions are shown and how quickly you can recover your equilibrium. We are all human, but no one likes to be around someone who wallows in their disappointment or anger.

Usually tears and anger show up at the same time!

I don’t express anger anymore. I get upset but it changes nothing.

Sharing emotions depends on the situation. If there is a death in the department everyone would be showing it. Venting may be a good way to show solidarity.

It is amazing what the type of work environment can do for your physical, mental and emotional being. I switched jobs/careers about 1.5 years ago and I’m not looking back. I think that is a major factor in your reactions in the workplace – yay for good work/life balance and great management! 🙂

It really depends on the circumstances, but it almost always is a bad idea. My boss asked me for honest feedback on a co-worker for her review (which I gave). In the review he used my words nearly verbatim and she knew that they came from me – and our working relationship was never the same.

It’s highly dependent on the circumstance. And if it’s not a rare event, it’s going to hurt your evaluations and career progression.

The workplace is not suited for extreme emotions. Part of being a good manager is controlling your emotions, especially your negative emotions.

Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve but you have to careful – expressing emotions, especially anger can erode people’s trust in you.

Sometimes emotional behavior can lead to conversations that might otherwise be avoided. It would be healthier however to discuss such issues before they come to a state with such high emotions.

I don’t think it is good to show emotion beyond being happy at work, but sometimes the frustration levels build beyond acceptable levels and emotions escape. Then you just have to pick up, apologize even to the person that pushed you over the top and they deserved it, and go on like nothing happened.

I am a woman of 57 years & have never cried at work. Your job isn’t worth it. I, fortunately, can leave work at work. I may come home & yell about some stupid procedure that’s been put in place, but that’s it.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.