How women have to be 'strategic' in showing emotions at work

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK

It’s a common misconception that women are more ‘emotional’ in the workplace. In fact, a study has show that men are more emotional in the workplace than women, but it’s women that are more likely to be judged negatively for expressing their feelings.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance UK on the award-winning Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded video series, a leading careers and industry expert Sue Unerman unveiled her top tips for women on how to balance being your authentic self while also expressing emotions at work.

“You have to be strategic about it. When people say ‘bring your whole self to work, it doesn’t mean all of the ‘yous’ all of the time,” said Unerman, chief transformation officer at the UK’s largest media agency, Mediacom.

“So there are days where my authentic self is laying on the sofa and eating crisps, that’s the ‘me’ that Mediacom pay me to turn up as. So you need to use judgement, you need to put your best self forward.”

Unerman is also the co-author, alongside Kathryn Jacob, of The Glass Wall, a book that offers advice for women seeking success at work. In the book, she and Jacob gathered interviews and case studies with over 100 men and women to determine “easy-to apply strategies for success.”

Sue Unerman, right, chief transformation officer at the UK’s largest media agency, Mediacom speaking to Lianna Brinded at Yahoo Finance UK. (Yahoo Finance UK)

When it comes to women expressing emotions at work, Unerman says that “you need to use judgement, you need to put your best self forward.”

“If someone is using your emotions against you as a weakness, that’s insane. One of the things that will keep us in jobs when the robots take over is that we got authentic human emotions — you’re in touch with them. But, we say, think about it carefully,” she said on Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded.

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“My rule would be — don’t cry in a meeting. Part of the reason for that is from experience, and the experience of those we have spoken to, it’s because they’re angry, not because they’re sad or upset. But that’s not how it comes across — it’s that ‘she’s crying because she can’t cope,’ not because she’s furious.

“So my view is get yourself out of that meeting, and I’ve been in that situation, where you feel like you’re not quite going to be in control — take a raincheck, take a deep breath, take yourself to the toilet, walk round the block. Think about how you can use your emotion to win in the situation, rather than let it out automatically.”

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded video series as well as Yahoo Finance UK’s dedicated work and management section and LinkedIn page for more career tips and coverage.