Last week I wrote a post about crying at work.  Interestingly (but maybe not surprisingly), I didn’t get much feedback from men.  (Too radioactive to weigh in, maybe?) I did, however, get very polarized feedback from women. While there were many who wrote to say thank you for expressing what they have felt, there were other women who took the opportunity to say that they are sick and tired of the overly emotional person on their team hijacking important decisions.

I asked some questions (of both men and women) to try to understand the frustration.  Wow…I learned a lot about the intensity of that frustration.  Many of you are completely exasperated by a person who repeatedly makes every issue emotional.  You are done with the fact that any sensitive topic turns into a sob fest! And the frustration wasn’t just at the fact that you were burning through too many tissues, it was tied to the legitimate business issues being clouded by overly emotional reactions.  This is a serious problem!!!

Can you relate? If so, it’s time to look in the mirror.  Are you allowing an emotional person to postpone, dilute, or drag out an issue that the business needs you to resolve? You need to own up to your part of the problem.  If you are being held hostage by an emotional team member, you are doing a disservice to your team and your organization.

WHAT?!? “I’m not the one blubbering on about the slightest little thing!” True, but if you’re allowing the emotion to detract from the real business issues at hand, your discomfort with emotion is crippling the team just as much as the other person’s emotional lack of control.

Remember, the work standards should be the same for everyone.  I said that very clearly in my first post.  The fact that an issue makes me cry is only a cue that there is a deeper, more personal layer of the issue that I need to address.  It doesn’t reduce my accountability. It doesn’t make it someone else’s problem.

Don’t run away from the emotion. Don’t give a free pass for someone just because they cry. Don’t avoid or postpone a discussion just because you anticipate a drama fest in response.  That would just be a sign of your weakness.  Instead, go in calmly, rationally, kindly, and get at the underlying issue.  If you see emotion, address it. Make it clear that you’re willing to consider the facts, feelings , and values that are part of any issue. And make it equally clear that, in the end, your obligation is to make the best decisions for the organization.

If there is a situation you have failed to address because of an emotional teammate, spend some time thinking about how you will approach it and then go have the conversation. Today. You can’t afford to wait any longer.

Further Reading

When Conflict Gets Emotional

How to Work with Emotional Data

3 Benefits of Dealing with Emotions on your Team

2 Responses to Held Hostage by the Crier on the Team

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