Rationality & Emotion in the Workplace

It's often difficult to restrain your emotions at work.
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People are more connected to their work, social and home lives in the early 21st century than ever before. While it would be ideal to keep emotions out of the workplace and save the drama for outside the office, it’s unrealistic to expect that. And if the private affairs that keep bleeding into your workday through texts, emails and phone calls aren’t enough, you can always find some drama at work to get involved in with your co-workers.

Increased Connectivity

    Constant connection is a way of life for workers in the 2000s. Through a continuous connection to the Internet and social networking, many employees expect to take their emotions everywhere they go -- including the workplace. Workers stay connected with employers, friends and family at all times, leaving them open for an emotional rant or disturbing news while they’re supposed to be working.


    While your boss may appear cool and calculating, making decisions based purely on rational processes, chances are that emotions play a much larger role in her thinking than even she is willing to admit. Just because the workplace is supposed to be an environment where rational thinking prevails, doesn’t mean that it is. In fact, according to researchers Debbie S. Dougherty and Kristina Drumheller, true rational thinking in the workplace is a myth. People make decisions based on past experiences, how they feel at any given time, pressures and fears, training and levels of emotional maturity.

Working Relationships

    Co-workers and bosses alike can set off a maelstrom of emotions that seem to defy the rules of rationality on any given day. One wrong look across the room to a co-worker going through a divorce may cause her to go off during a sales meeting. The boss giving a co-worker the boot for sluggish production can create a ripple of emotions through the entire company that’s not really based on rational thinking, but fear for your own job. No matter how much you try to remain rational at work, there is always going to be someone else’s emotions and feelings getting in the way.


    Employers realize the importance of talking about feelings, addressing emotions and coping with problems in the workplace to reduce stress and the toll it takes on the bodies and minds of workers. In the past, you were expected to deal with your emotions, smile at customers and nod when the boss makes a request. But faking it and putting on a smile when you feel like crying can lead to personal and workplace complications. You’ll end up getting physically sick and your work will eventually suffer if you don’t have an outlet to express your true feelings. Keeping emotions in check takes its toll on employees who eventually burn out or become sick from the constant stress, according to Alicia A. Grandey at the University of Pennsylvania. The associated stress leads to high turnover and a less productive workforce.

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