The Myth of Hiding Your Emotions in the Drawer until 5 pm

I am sure I’m not the only one seeing the difficulty of being two different people a couple of hours away, depending on where we are. Most problems surfaced due to the split mindset of bottling things up at work and unleashing a stream of uncontrollable emotions after 5 pm. This breaks you and, eventually, breaks a company’s culture.

By Marita Kassis
We are often told not to show emotions in the workplace; I now recognise that most people have this split personality or scary dichotomy in how they handle life. This is not GOOD personal management; it could be an excellent skill to be flaunting. This is flat-out a recipe for disaster. Showing emotions does not indicate opening a floodgate of visible tears and a conscious decision to procrastinate and be unproductive.

Showing the right amount of emotions that would still allow you to be true to yourself while also helping you not drown is essential to manage feelings. Most of us spend more time in the workplace than we do in the comfort of our homes – it is imperative that we feel some safety at work to allow part of those layers to come out.

If we’re burnt out, we are not “fine” – if we’re going through a divorce, we are not “ok” – if we’re facing depression, we are not “well.” There is no point in hiding or masquerading around. If you do not feel well – say it. Show it. It’s ok to be human. The workplace does not equal walls or unaffected beings.

We’re quick to say that we have the flu or a stomach bug… why not be as quick to admit that the mind and emotions require the same acknowledgement?

Although work is known to be a productive clock from 9 to 5, it is not so. We establish a series of connections and relationships with our coworkers and colleagues, some of whom we grow naturally close to. This is more common than we’d like to think, and it is concerning if you think you’re so close to one person when you only know half or less of them. Would you even recognise that person when they’re in the comfort of their couch or around family?

Values and ideals do not get hidden in drawers upon convenience – they shouldn’t. And it would be best if you didn’t want to do that to a part of yourself.

Again, this is not an invitation to turn every lunch or coffee break into a therapeutic session about your deepest concerns but a call to give yourself the space to let some of the feelings to the surface. It’s not about dumping a whole load of emotional rollercoasters onto your colleagues but about managing your emotions.

This is not done in the name of those friendships you’re nurturing but in your interest and the environment in which you’re being productive. Letting your emotions out systematically and constantly is also a healing mechanism for you: bonus, this applies to both men and women.

By opening the curtains on your backstage, you bring in more energy and air into yourself. You help build solid foundations wherever you go so you can be true to yourself without putting extra anxiety and stress into hiding. By allowing yourself to feel, you establish more robust connections to those around you, and instead of looking like a robot, you become more human.

There are several benefits; a few have been tested and observed across teams I managed. When given the space and safety, there was a tangible result to show what was happening in the background.

  • Less personal anxiety
  • Deeper synergy among the team
  • Fewer tangible frictions
  • Higher and better productivity
  • Understanding became the norm
  • Higher freedom in sharing ideas
  • Creativity was flowing
  • Discussions are productive and all-inclusive
  • Breaks became a place to talk, not complain
  • The workplace became all the more attractive

Emotions can become part of the work culture. Managers and employees need to care more about themselves and others. It’s not a weakness or misplaced attention – emotional intelligence is the exact line of thought of bridging emotions and behaviour into an intellectual synergy that would benefit you and your surroundings.

Knowing that you are not alone and in a safe place, no matter how busy or challenging, allows you to be even more productive. It also boosts the faith that, as you go about your day, being transparent and honest about your whole context, that part of your crumbling life will eventually be all right, no matter what direction it takes.

You are not alone and won’t be. This reassurance from an understanding and accepting community is priceless than you can fathom.


Marita Kassis

Marita is a political analyst focusing on the Middle East, Security, and Counter-Terrorism. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Business Administration and International Studies. She has published various digital and print articles, and works in media and communication. She was previously Managing Editor for AI-Monitor in Beirut.
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