How Emotions Come to Work

Although efforts are often made to separate emotion from the workplace, the two are inseparable because people carry emotion with them wherever they go. Through suppression, emotions often come to work in more professional attire. Ashforth and Humphrey (1995) describe four kinds of suppression: neutralizing, using rational norms to keep emotion from emerging, is seen, for example, when we require completion of numerous forms before facing a contentious client; buffering, intentionally keeping emotion and rationality compartmentalized, may come across as "detached concern" and is often observed, for example, in physicians who want some degree of rapport with patients but who do not want to totally relinquish rationality. Other ways emotions can be suppressed include prescribing (applying "appropriate" emotional cues to the situation at hand—for example, a bill collector's voice conveys urgency and a flight attendant appears cheerful); and normalizing (creating a rational explanation for an emotional decision—for example, arguing that a proposal was rejected because of its high cost, not because of a dislike of the employee who suggested it).

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