Have you ever lost it in front of your boss? Or had a meltdown in front of colleagues? Few of us haven’t. Here is some game-changing advice for regaining composure — and respect in the workplace — post showdown: Put a passionate spin on it.

Instead of saying “I was too emotional” to account for your behavior, say, “I was very passionate.” According to a recent study, those who pulled the passion card were perceived to be more competent than the ones who said emotions got in the way. This makes sense, of course, considering how the two words have very different connotations in the professional world.

“Being passionate is often stated as an important attribute for employees; passion is associated with determination, motivation and having a high degree of self-control. Being emotional, however, has almost a negative mirror effect and is associated with irrationality, instability, ineptitude and a low degree of self-control,” explained lead researcher Sunita Sah, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at Cornell University.

Men are quick to dismiss a woman as “too emotional” the moment she becomes upset about anything. I know a young woman who was told by her male boss that she was too sensitive. “You need to grow a thicker skin,” he advised her. This was after she had burst into tears when a colleague publicly berated her for missing a deadline that he had pushed back without telling her. She could have subtly changed the narrative if she had switched the post-tears story to a passion play for not missing a deadline and colleagues keeping everyone informed.

These days, that same young lady takes matters into her own hands. Before anyone dares label her as “too emotional” in stressful situations, she declares her passion for her work. She didn’t grow a thicker skin, thank you very much, but she just did get a promotion.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

˜ Maya Angelou

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman