When it comes to succeeding at work, conventional wisdom says you should check your emotions at the door. But Anne Kreamer, a former Nickelodeon executive and the author of the new book It’s Always Personal (Random House, $25), disagrees. “Putting on that ‘armor’ diminishes people’s ability to bring their best selves to their work,” she says. Instead, Kreamer suggests, acknowledging and acting on your feelings can help you excel on the job. Here’s how to turn your emotions into opportunities.
I feel: Angry
How to get promoted: Engage in joint problem solving
Blowing a gasket at work is “universally uncool,” says Kreamer. But opening your emotional floodgates strategically can lead to solutions if both sides are willing to work together. Rather than confront the offender in the heat of the moment, schedule a one-on-one meeting. “The specific time and private space establishes boundaries so you have a greater chance of achieving a constructive outcome and maintaining the relationship,” Kreamer adds.
I feel: Afraid and anxious
How to get promoted: Improve planning skills; stop procrastinating
Are you unclear about an assignment? Feel underprepared for a meeting or overwhelmed by your workload? Identify what’s behind your fear and take specific action — ask your manager for details, write and rehearse your presentation, delegate some responsibilities. You’ll calm down and do a better job. “No boss minds helping an eager employee learn something new, but every boss resents having to intervene in a bungled project,” says Kreamer.
I feel: Happy
How to get promoted: Increase creativity and productivity
When you’re in a positive mood, your brain activity actually shifts, says Kreamer. “Your focus deepens, and your dopamine levels increase, which helps you see things from a different perspective.”
I feel: Like crying
How to get promoted: Do some self-analysis
Crying at work isn’t a sign of weakness or even a signal that you’re unhappy in your job. “It’s a yellow flag, a signal that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed,” say Kreamer. If you feel yourself getting teary, take a walk outside if you can. Then set up a meeting for the next day with the person who triggered your tears. It’s important to destigmatize crying in the workplace, says Kreamer. “We should just accept it for the biological fact that it is.”