While it sounds unusual, expressing negative feelings at work can be a positive thing. In an article for Forbes, Amro Elserty writes, “Employees try to curb negativity in the workplace to avoid potential confrontations and risk being unprofessional. In fact, expressing negative feelings can be both healthy and useful, says Michael Parke, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School.”
“Companies can benefit from fostering an environment where employees are allowed to be negative, as long as they don’t let it get out of hand.”
“When someone can’t express their true emotion, it prevents them from being their authentic self and can lead to frustration which demotivates them. If politeness and a fake sense of happiness prevail, it can actually create greater social distance between colleagues,” says Parke.
“He believes that there should be an atmosphere of transparency and openness among employees–senior and junior, who by voicing their anxiety, frustration or anger can help them prioritize issues and deal with them.”
“A healthy sense of danger, worry or suspicion in small doses can keep people vigilant–particularly useful for organizations that regularly encounter risk, such as the police and security firms,” says Parke.
“Negative emotions can also enhance employees’ creativity and innovation. Acknowledging a stressful situation is a step towards finding ideas to resolve it.”
“Leaders should try to create an authentic, experiential climate, whether it skews to the positive or negative side,” says Parke. “This requires a long-term commitment. They need to set the parameters for how and when people open up at work. Importantly, leaders should be ready to deal with these emotions when colleagues start opening up. Candid feedback sessions are a great opportunity to practice sharing authentic feelings.”