Don’t ask me not to get emotional

“ I’ll hide my sadness now, so you can’t tell.” — https://www.flickr.com/photos/muccina/ — CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Okay, I need to tread carefully here, because I don’t want two separate issues to mix up. However, a little bit of back story is needed.

Earlier this week, everyone in the company I work for received an email about office policies. About the clean desk policy, about the dress code, about how to behave. While there may be some merit in having office policies, I disagree with most of these points. And I do so profoundly.

This morning, at our daily product stand up meeting, a senior manager within the department made a comment about someone’s attire (to complete the picture: today is casual Friday — a concept I also don’t get). It may have been banter, but it led to some surprised faces and was followed up with the question “didn’t anyone read the policy?”

We had a short discussion about it (many people actually hadn’t read it), and I shared some of my views about this subject, after which I received the comment “you don’t have to get emotional about it.”

My point is: Yes. I. Do.

Because I feel strongly about it.

In effect, that particular comment invalidated my feelings, either to cut the discussion short, or to prevent someone from feeling uncomfortable. In any way, I felt dismissed.

Hm. Now that I think about it some more (while writing this), the two issues I thought were separate may actually be closely related.

Because office policies are designed to suppress identities. They serve no other purpose than to paint a picture. A picture of cleanliness, of compliance, of serious business. But it’s simply make belief, turning an office into a showroom of ‘decent’ behaviour. It dismisses the fact that people need to interact, they should be able to feel comfortable where they work, they shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone they’re not. They should be able to feel what they feel and actually be allowed to show it.

Someone may have very good reasons to feel sad. Why suppress that? If he wants to cry, let him. Someone may have very good reason to feel happy. Why suppress that? If she wants to dance in the parking lot, let her. In fact, there are always good reasons for feelings, because feelings arise from who we truly are. And we should be able to be ourselves at work too.

There is not yet an official policy that says we can’t ‘get emotional’, it is actually implied. The other policies, however, are meant to reinforce compliance to a certain view, the view I described earlier. That we should be “good office citizens”, have clean desks at all times, not speak up but be quiet, and more such nonsense.

The message is quite clear: “don’t be yourself.”

I say, fuck that. Let me be me. Wholly. Allow me to feel what I feel, and allow me to share it. Respect who I am, and I’ll respect you for it. I’ll be the best employee you could have wished for. The happiest too.

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