Emotional Balance and the Working Woman

Relationships Professional

Emotional Balance and the Working Woman

by Olessia Kantor
Professional Experiences Emotions Work-Life Balance

I often write about what it is to be a woman in the professional arena. It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart because of the experiences that not only I, but many of the women I come in contact with, have had. There’s a balance to maintain, expectations that enter a room way before you do. It was not easy for me to be in the diamond industry when my male counterparts would take one look at me and determine I  seemed better suited to model diamonds than to evaluate them or arrange for their acquisition.

U.S. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton recently discussed this in her feature on Humans of New York. She expressed “I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’”

So if a woman who has had a very long, very public career that has brought her to this crucial point struggles to strike the balance, you may wonder how you can. It’s not a simple question to answer. Women throughout different industries experience varying degrees of resistance. Whatever your own experiences might be, here are the two easy steps to striking the balance.

Be True to Yourself. You have to know what kind of person you are and be honest with yourself about your tendencies, your personality, and how you react to certain situations. Self-awareness and a degree of comfortability with yourself is key. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself in relation to your emotions and their appropriacy in the workplace?

  • Are you a person who would become embarrassed or angered if someone mentioned you being emotional? If you are sensitive to mention of your showcases of emotions, then you may want to steer clear of emotional behavior in the workplace. 
  • Is your passion being misconstrued as an emotionally charged response? If you’re questioning your behavior at all, make sure that you’re the one who thinks there may be an issue. It’s common for people we don’t interact with regularly to misunderstand tone. If you think you’re being unfairly misjudged, don’t hesitate to address it in an appropriate manner.
  • Will an honest show of emotions undermine your duties in your position? If you find yourself in a management position, your show of emotions may be best left for private time. While it should be no reason for anyone to treat you differently, people who you are in charge of may be made uncomfortable. If this is something you wouldn’t want to address later, it’s best to try and to hold out for that moment alone.

Be Honest With Others.

  • Is your work persona a radical departure from your regular self? If there’s a huge difference between who you are in and out of the office, it’s easier to slip out of character, so to speak, and find yourself acting different than what certain people expect of you.
  • Should you be upfront? If you know you’re with a group of people that tend to misinterpret you, there’s no harm in giving a heads up so that everyone’s on the same page and your message is known to be deliberate and to be taken in a certain tone or manner.

While professional women have made tremendous strides in workplace equality, the question of emotional visibility and appropriacy in the workplace still exists. It’s best to take stock in yourself as a person and as an employee, analyze the situation, and do what you think is best and most authentic for you as a result.