No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work

Posted by Meredith Birkhead on Oct 31, 2019, 1:29:46 PM

This is a book report on No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy

No Hard Feelings is a professional development book that was published in early 2019. Marketing and design consultant Fosslien and organizational designer Duffy outline the ways that emotion affects seven central aspects of work: health, motivation, decision making, teamwork, communication, culture, and leadership. Humorous drawings and charts keep the tone light and engage the reader throughout the book. 

While their advice can seem counter-intuitive, such as be less passionate about your job, it is rooted in extensive research and expert advice. For example, the authors argue that emotion has a strong influence on the interview process. Studies show that interviews are essentially over after the first ten seconds. The danger in relying on your gut, or emotional response, is that managers can fall into a trap of hiring someone based on similarities between the manager and employee alone. Blind evaluations, clear criteria based on skills, or team hiring decisions are all possible solutions to this issue. This book also explores avoiding burnout, digital miscommunication, and team conflict.  Hint – task conflict can be healthy and is encouraged, but structures must be put in place to prevent creative tensions from becoming personal. 

Lastly, the chapter on leadership was particularly interesting as Fosslien and Duffy carefully address female leaders and the pressure to avoid appearing either too emotional or too emotionless to lead.  Research also shows that as women move up in an organization, their colleagues may begin to see them as less friendly or approachable and as more competitive. Female leaders can better balance this perception by showing emotion when assessing a difficult situation but presenting a clear path forward.  Emotion can be an extremely effective tool to help bond and motivate employees. High emotional intelligence is one of the best indicators of a great leader, regardless of gender. 

This book helps frame emotion as a tool that can improve teamwork, address micromanaging, increase an employee’s autonomy and more. The outdated notion that emotions should be suppressed in the workplace is challenged in this book. No Hard Feelings was a lighthearted, thoughtful look at human beings in work spaces that are not typically designed for them.