Do women get emotional at work?

EMPATHETIC AND EFFICIENT Women in control of their emotions make better team leaders

EMPATHETIC AND EFFICIENT Women in control of their emotions make better team leaders  

Do women carry the baggage of emotions to work? SUDHA UMASHANKER finds out

It's believed that women are emotional and that feeling spills over to the work environment too. If they can keep their emotions in check, it can become a strength and give them an edge when it comes to handling people. Women in the corporate world have learnt their lessons quickly and have not only tuned into their emotions but are also handling them very well. So, what is the general perception? Says P. Senthil Kumar, Head, HR and Administration, Cairn India, "For women, work is serious business. There is a high expectation of interpersonal co-operation and they tend to get upset when it does not happen."

Learn from mistakes

Sarita Digumarti, lead consultant in a business analysis firm, says, "Some women start by being more emotional than men (taking criticism personally, breaking down when confronted). But this tends to disappear as they move up the ladder. However, women generally take criticism more seriously and show a willingness to correct their mistakes and keep their managers happy. Men tend to argue when confronted with criticism or mistakes."According to Nithya Manoj, an executive in the travel business, "Men and women are equally emotional but about different things and in the way they express it. For e.g. if a man bangs his fists on the table out of anger or frustration, a woman might shed a few tears. But the corporate world may look at fist banging as an accepted mode of expressing emotions rather than crying which makes the woman appear weak and ineffectual." There is yet another observation from P. S. Srikumar, head of a HR firm. "Women have a tendency to go into a shell or become silent. The way they emote also depends on their seniority in the management. People in senior positions are a lot more quiet than those at the entry level."

A negative trait?

So, is a touch of emotion viewed as a sensitive characteristic or a negative trait?Says Malathi, a management professional, "It does make them more empathetic but the downside is it clouds their judgment and distorts perceptions of others about them." Sounding a note of caution, Gayatri Suresh, a finance professional, says uncontrolled emotions can be perceived as a negative trait.So, what is paramount is being in total control. As Nithya puts it, "If a woman can have her emotions in place (restrain anger and self-doubt and focus on positive strengths like confidence) she can do a wonderful job of being empathetic and sensitive to her team and bring out the best in them." Sarita says, "Women in a corporate setting quickly learn that being overtly emotional does not help. They make better people managers thanks to their experience of balancing home and career." According to Srikumar, "In the rapidly changing business environment where people have little regard for the feelings of others, emotional reactions are an indication that there is some humaneness still left in us." How and why do some women react the way they do when criticised? Says Ms M: "The instinctive reaction is to block out the speaker. They are already working on their defence." Or they begin to harbour a grudge, adds Nithya. But much depends on how the situation is handled by both parties. Gayatri Suresh says women take criticism well except if they are ticked off in public. But while men reconcile faster, women take it to heart in most cases. However, with women, the chances that the mistake will recur are limited, says Srikumar.Does this affect their growth professionally? The reactions are mixed. "Being involved has a positive impact on their growth. If there is no involvement, there are no emotions," feels Senthil Kumar. But the management view in most cases is that emotionally stable people are an asset to a company, says Srikumar.Suchint Murali, a banking executive, says, "Emotions tend to show up only when you stop enjoying your work. Therefore it's good to positively reinforce faith in your abilities every now and then."
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