Book Review: No Hard Feelings by Linshuang Lu

March 2, 2020

No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy

Work is emotional. In other words, we experience a lot of feelings at work. While many of these emotions can be positive (feeling appreciated after a kind thank you note from a coworker, the excitement of digging into a new project, the satisfaction of completing your to-do list), it’s often the negative ones that are hardest to navigate. A strange expression from your manager, yet another excuse from a direct report, a snippy brief email, an ambiguous email, sloppy mistakes from a coworker that create more work for you— All of these small interactions can add up to our own feelings of frustration, inadequacy, underappreciation, resentment, or whatever it may be.

Some of us assume that it’s better to suppress emotions and try to bring only our rational and logical selves to work. I’ve heard so many times, “I don’t bring my emotions to work. I keep my personal life separate from my professional life.” While there’s a certain logic to that approach, it naively assumes that we’re capable of not being emotionally affected by anything at work.

Those of us who try to bottle up these emotions end up distant, withdrawn and disengaged at work. And while that is certainly a coping strategy, it is not ideal state of being for something that occupies a good majority of our waking hours.

So the question is: How can we embrace emotions in the workplace in a healthy way?

This book does an excellent job of offering practical advice on navigating complicated emotions at work: whether our own or those of others.

It covers areas such as:

  • Working effectively with different personality styles
  • Making good decisions
  • Creating a positive team environment
  • How to give feedback
  • How to express your emotions productively in the workplace
  • Managing stress
  • Diversity and inclusion

In each of these areas, the authors give a high-level overview of research and plenty of practical tips. While it does not go into great depth in any single area (this is an Emotions at Work 101 book), it gives a solid overview of major areas, and connects people to other resources for a deeper dive.

Plus, did I mention this book has funny cartoons? The cartoons themselves make the book worth reading! The cartoons capture the essence of so many workplace emotions that we experience.

If Dilbert cartoons illustrate quintessential Gen X disengagement, then this book’s cartoons captures Millennial earnestness.

Recommended for: early to mid-career professionals who are looking for practical tips and guidance on how to have healthy relationships at work, and a healthy relationship with work.