Emotions in the Workplace

For any of you who read this blog with any regularity, you know I am an emotional being. I’ve never felt such a deep soul connection with a celebrity as when Kristen Bell exclaimed on Ellen, “First thing you should know about me, if I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying.”


It’s true, really. I feel feelings quite intensely. It’s gotten me into some sticky situations at past jobs. I also manifest anger/frustration by crying, which is just horribly inconvenient. Nothing says, “Hey, don’t respect me at all. Just being all womanly and terrifying,” like crying at work. In male dominated workplaces, it’s rough. I just want to feel upset and hide it. So difficult.

Ugh. It drives me crazy. It doesn’t seem right that emotions are so taboo in the workplace. Of course, my perspective is skewed. I want us all to express ourselves, be aware about how we feel, and practice empathy when someone does cry at work. Unfortunately, I see the flaws in that idea from the outset. Crying at work, or really any extreme negative emotional reaction, is just seen as really taboo.

As with most things, I got into a conversation with Jesse about it. Why is emotion so frowned upon at work? What is it about being sad, mad, or passionate about something you care about that needs to be excused from day-to-day work cycles? You are expected to be passionate, but removed at the same time. That seems backwards. You have to care a lot, but not care too much. What?

First off, emotions make people uncomfortable. I mean, if you’re not my client and you start crying, I honestly have no idea what to do other than to empathize with you. Can I hug you? Should I? No. Um, do you need water? How about food? What can I do to make the awkwardness stop?!

Second, and I think more importantly, being emotional in the workplace indicates that you are too involved with emotion in your decision making process. At certain jobs, taking emotions into the equation are important, like counseling for example. At most jobs, rational decisions usually require removing emotional investment. It’s not how bad you want it but is there logically sound reasoning behind your choice?

Now, I’m not suggesting we all turn into Dr. House and just completely remove ourselves from caring completely (holy moly, I just realized I need to do a case file on him). Caring about your co-workers can be a uniting experience. Caring too much about your co-workers, your job, or anything that isn’t completely in your control can be dangerous. Take it from me… I am the queen of caring too much about my job. It’s hard in a society that encourages so much focus on job satisfaction, success, and earnings to just step back a bit and go, “Should I care about this as much as I do?”

For those of you out there who are champions of feelings, I salute you. I’m right there with you. It’s time to work on our self-awareness if we find ourselves too involved and too emotional about what we do for a living. I’m not suggesting we all shrug our shoulders and constantly reflect apathy, but I am suggesting that we keep the outbursts, tears, and large expressions of our vulnerable emotions to a minimum.

Another great reason to have an outlet like counseling. Glad I’m going back. 🙂

What do you all think?

Can you be emotional in the workplace and do a good job?

Related: Sheryl Sandberg says tells women it’s OK to cry at work


So last year I made a few New Year’s resolutions. As I’ve mentioned before, I am constantly trying to be a better person. I don’t need the signal of a new year, per se, but the idea of a fresh start always helps. I’m currently working on a few person things, but I’ve thought about some bigger sweeps I want to make in 2013. But first, let’s see how I did on my resolutions from 2012.

I love this quote. 🙂

1. Find my abs.

OK, truth time. I completely forgot I made this declaration. Mostly because I constantly want to find my abs, but I’m usually not so intentional about it. All in all, even with my lack of memory, I think I did fairly well with this one. In the summer, I started Jamie Eason’s LiveFit workout and saw some major results. Then, Jesse and I started doing Insanity when I moved to Seattle. I don’t have a six pack (remember all those cookies?) but I’m in probably the best physical shape of my life. So, I got some ab-age going on. I’m satisfied with that.

2. Learn to play the drums.

I did this! Mostly. I can actually kind of play the drums now. I definitely want to keep the momentum going in 2013, especially now that we have a place to set them up (because OMGWEFOUNDAHOME – details later) but I can keep time and get splshy with it when I’m not totally self-conscious. Yeehaw.

3. Cut down on my drinking.

Yes, I did this. Especially these last three months because I was on a diet where I couldn’t have bread, much less alcohol (long story). All in all, with the exception of a few celebratory occasions, I drank moderately to not-at-all. Yeah, me. Maybe I’m just growing up? The appeal of overdrinking isn’t there anymore like it was when I was 21. I just want to wake up tomorrow hydrated and with a stomach that isn’t turning.

So, I did it! I basically fulfilled all of my New Year’s Resolutions. I honestly think that’s the first time I’ve done it. Granted, some of it is probably because life just moved that way, but I like to think I had a lot of control over whether these did or did not happen. *pats self on back*

So, now it’s time for 2013. I have a few goals in mind that I’m working on, including carrying over the abs and drums thing. I’d like to see myself continue to improve there. So, here are the big ones:

1. Grow my business

I have set myself a goal income for this year, along with some other goals, including how many clients I’d like to carry along with my job at The Gottman Institute. I feel as long as I am realistic and I work hard, there’s no reason I shouldn’t succeed here.

2. Get my half-sleeve

So, I know some people don’t view tattoos the way I do, but I promised myself I would get a tattoo to symbolize my growth and resilience since starting counseling almost 5 years ago. I’ve come so far since then, and I have a really cool idea of something I want. I promised myself once I make X money this year, I’m getting my tattoo. It’s happening. Plus, I want that constant reminder on my body telling me, “You’re strong. You can do anything,” because you know what? I’ve already done so much.

3. Practice patience

I’ve talked a lot about my struggles with being patient. I’m basically the archenemy of patience. I hate waiting and I always want instant gratification. This trait has made me more miserable in the past year (relatively speaking) than anything else. I set up expectations for how long things should (see, those shoulds suck) take and I end up being disappointed and mad at who? Oh, myself. I love blaming myself. I’m stopping that, too.

4. Start Yoga Teacher Training

I hope by this time next year, I am making moves to become a yoga teacher. I love yoga so much and I don’t get it into my life nearly as much as I would like. I think becoming a yoga teacher would be an intentional act of getting yoga into my life forever, while also providing a cool platform for more work in mental health/wellness.


It’s happening. We have a yard now.


Private Practice Prep

There’s a lot that goes into opening a small business as a therapist, but not nearly as much as I thought. With the exception of those few moments where I’m just completely nervous about the future and this crazy endeavor I’ve gotten myself into, it’s actually been kind of fun.

You know what’s totally weird though? Promoting yourself. If there’s one lesson I’ve had people wag their finger at me for and say, “Don’t fail to do that!” it’s been about marketing my strengths, skills, and abilities. I mean, I know I’m a great therapist and I will get the job done, but other people don’t know that. You can’t really measure if I’m the best, you just have to experience it for yourself. A lot of people have a problem with that idea because it means potentially paying for services only to be disappointed by what they paid for, plus feeling even more upset because they really needed help, took a chance, and ended up feeling likely a lot worse.

So, I’ve been placed in this interesting position where I have to step outside of myself and say, “What are my strengths? What will clients see in me that they won’t get from other therapists?” and then tell the whole world about it. So, do you want to see what I’ve been up to?

The Jen Bingaman Private Practice site

Man, Jesse definitely has a fan club and I am its president and CEO. I seriously can’t imagine my life without him as my partner, much less imagine how stupidly difficult and expensive it would be to start this business without his techspertise (I just made that word up… I like it!). I might have to give him my first born child or something…

Anyway, we still have some small tweaks here and there (pictures, glitz, header), but the site is live and all the copy is there. For those of you who are curious, have the time, the interest, or the expertise, please go to the site and poke around. Let me know if you have any suggestions based on your experience or if you see any glaring spelling or grammatical errors. I’ve looked over it so many times, my eyes are turning to mush.

If you’re feeling really wonderful and generous, especially if you live in Seattle, will you share the site with your friends and family, especially on social media? It goes a long, long way.

Jen Bingaman on Psychology Today

So for those of you who don’t know, Psychology Today is pretty much the go-to resource for people looking for therapy services. They are practically a monopoly, but they also have a pretty decent set-up for showcasing therapists and providing people with a good selection of practitioners in their area. I worked long and hard (and may continue to do so) to get my profile as accurate and authentic as possible since I know a large majority of my web referrals will come from Psychology Today.

Jen Bingaman at Seattle Direct Counseling

I’m really excited about this one. I’m a member of a group practice! I working with two other wonderful therapists, each of us with our own style and skills. I’ll be working from a downtown office one day of the week, providing eTherapy other days. If any of you out there have been interested in eTherapy in the past, the time is nigh! If you don’t live in Washington, there can be some tricky rules about state-to-state internet counseling, so look up the laws for your state before you contact me and share what you find. Man, I am so excited about all of this. It’s going to be such a fun adventure.

I’ve done tons of other less exciting things like get liability insurance, open a business checking account (OK, so that was fun until I had to put money in it… and then spend it), get a business license, and pay lots of stupid fees for all of it. Oh well, you have to spend money to make money, right?

Speaking of spending money… I’m going to need an amazing accountant. Does anyone have any recommendations here is Seattle? There’s a reason why I never majored in Finance.

Tomorrow is Friday. So many good things… including puppies!