How To: Emote Professionally


When it came time to ask Haley Nahman from last week's interview for her how-to, we tossed around different ideas. When it came down to it, we really wanted to ask her about the way she handles feeling overwhelmed at work. It's something she's written about both for Man Repeller and her own blog in the past, Similarish, and it's definitely a relatable topic. Luckily for us, she obliged! Below are her 3 tips on how to best handle this situation.

1. Wait. When you feel really emotional at work, wait before you speak to someone about how you feel. I have made this mistakes many times before -- feeling really overwhelmed and wanting to communicate that because “communication is important.” But, it’s much easier to communicate efficiently from a more stable place. So even if it’s just waiting a day and thinking about how you’d like to communicate where you’re at emotionally is really important. Give yourself a little bit of time. When I give myself time, I always end up feeling differently about how I want to communicate it.”

2. Speak Up. My second tip is don’t be afraid. After you give it time, don’t be afraid to explain and think out loud about how you feel. I think so often I am talking with someone about a frustration they have at work, and I ask them if they’ve told anybody about this. And the answer’s so often no. I think we often internalize our frustrations at work and think that success is measured in stoicism. And I don’t think that’s true. I think actually to be able to speak through what you’re thinking and explain how you’re feeling is a sign of maturity as long as you can do it calmly, which sort of speaks to the first point.

3. Zoom Out. My last suggestion is remember that although your feelings are important, they’re also part of a larger context at work. So considering your boss’ position and the job and the company in context of your feelings is really important. For instance, saying “I’m overwhelmed” is okay, but it’s even better to say “I’m overwhelmed, and I would like your help in prioritizing what I should do first, because I want to do an effective job at what’s important instead of a sub-par job at a bunch of stuff.” Thinking about your job and remembering that you’re not the only stakeholder involved is really important. People will often get caught up in this when they’re asking for raises for instance. They’ll say, “I’m working so hard and I really deserve it”. And it may be true that you’re working hard, but ultimately, what matters to the company is what value you’re bringing. You can work hard at your job and still just be doing your job. Working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you’re entitled to more money. But bringing more value than you used to bring is certainly important. Appealing to the big picture will make you seem mature and capable.

Thank you so much, Haley! We'll definitely be taking this useful advice to heart. Readers, after absorbing all of this knowledge, come back next Monday to learn from a woman whose job is like Sims City in real life. (Photos provided by Haley Nahman)