Can you separate your emotions whilst in a work environment?

Some people believe that when you are at work, you are in a “work mode” so if for any reason you are told that you haven’t done something right, you should be told this in no uncertain terms, which can be quite “robust“.

They go on to say that criticism at work should not be a “soft” correction, but rather it can be harsh because it is a work environment and you should in no way take the criticism personally. Further justification is because the criticism or correction is aimed against the “act” of working and not the individual itself. But separating the two is not easy.

Whilst this makes sense in principle because in a work environment you need to realise you do have to reach a certain standard of work quality, however, it’s the HOW you are told, is where I have a real issue with.

You see, we are human beings with feelings that we take away criticism personally which CAN and DOES have a profound effect on our psyche in far worse ways than we may have initially realised.

Think back…

If you have been subjected to criticism in the past, I bet you can recall that criticism even TODAY and it may have occurred years ago or even during school times. Even if the intention of whoever was providing the correction may not have been to affect you as a person directly, the mere fact you can recall it shows it HAS had a profound effect on you. As the act wasn’t just being criticized, but you took it as personal criticism too.

We remember bad things more than good things because it is inbuilt into us as a past survival skill. You need to remember bad things so they are not repeated. However, too many of these “bad” things that are delivered in the “wrong manner” does have long term negative effects.

Let’s however also get this into some perspective…yes, you can advise or provide correction (not criticism) in a job environment, where it is “justified“. But you MUST do so in a considered manner not attacking the individual at all. You need to detach the act from the person and NEVER combine the two, otherwise, you are inadvertently inflicting long term psychological damage on the individual.

Remember it is false to believe or assume that in a work environment, a work colleague has detached their feelings from work and views the work environment as merely a “work environment” with no emotional attachment whatsoever.

This is simply false.

At work, you may make some friends, because you are working with them regularly and who some can go on to become friends outside of your work environment. This means you have a personal and emotional attachment to that work. So saying we should detach emotionally from a work environment is highly fraught with falsehoods and in reality, very hard to actually achieve.

So tread carefully when giving criticism at work as you may be doing way more harm than you in fact realise.