Pay attention to emotions in the workplace

Mike Edwards
4 min readFeb 11, 2019


What do you do when things start getting emotional at work? What if they’re your emotions? I’ve heard more than once recently, how some people believe emotions have no place at work. There was a period in my career where I subscribed to this belief.

Things were getting emotional

Last year, I attended a coach training event in Toronto. The day was great, and at one point I was asked to be the coaching client in a group exercise. In this exercise, everyone is in a circle around me, and people take turns coming up to coach the client (that’s me), for a minute or two.

The group did a great job coaching me. I love how even some of the most inexperienced in the room took a turn. The only way to improve your coaching skills is to coach.

Once the coaching wrapped up, we debriefed the experience. In such experiences, the debrief is often where the most significant learning happens. One person observed how emotional she felt at one point. She told us she was worried for me, as she thought I was close to tears.

Pointing out the emotions was a solid observation on her part. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what we were talking about when things were getting emotional. However, I do remember the experience, and I was feeling very emotional as if things could head towards tears.

Don’t put your emotions in a drawer

I have always been an emotional person. I spent a large part of my life trying to deny and hide my emotions. I would fight to hide my emotions when I would be in a conversation. It is almost as if I was trying to put the emotions in a drawer, so I didn’t have to look at them.

At times, the emotions would originate in me. Those are the easy ones to understand as I know they are real. I know this because of how important something is to me, so it doesn’t surprise me when I get emotional.

Other times, though, I am surprised by an emotion that is coming up in me. What is this emotional feeling coming up in me if it is not mine? Is this feeling real? Should I talk about it? Is the emotion telling me something?

Yes, yes and yes.

Emotions in leadership



Mike Edwards

Executive & Leadership Coach, Blogger, and author of Activate your Leadership