We’ve been through a pandemic, wearing masks, getting tested; now we have to ditch the sweatpants for real work clothes and figure out how to get back into the office routine. 

Some people will be happy about this, while some will be bummed out — smart managers will know the difference and welcome all the emotions that employees may be having, according to an article in The Atlantic

“Management scholars have even started to highlight the unique advantages of leaders who express sorrow. In a business culture that once demanded positivity, a new set of norms is slowly emerging,” the article said. 

“Certain kinds of distress are more socially acceptable to express at work than others”, CompassionLab scholar Jason Kanov said in the article. “It’s okay to openly grieve the death of a spouse or parent, but much riskier to share the struggles of a breakup, office politics, or financial worry, for example.”

“The bereavement expert Kenneth Doka calls these losses—the kind we feel we have no permission to mourn—’disenfranchised griefs.’ And according to Harvard Medical School psychologist and management scholar Susan David, suppressing these types of feelings can backfire and leave workers depleted long after they leave the office. ‘When emotions are pushed aside or ignored, they get stronger,’  she says in a popular TED Talk. ‘Psychologists call this ‘amplification.’ Like that delicious chocolate cake in the refrigerator, the more you try to ignore it … the greater its hold on you.’ “

Most managers may be inclined to feel they need to keep morale high but addressing this challenge may require a new style of corporate leadership, the article argues. And there could be longer term benefits. 

“Embracing personal power can help create emotionally healthy and high-performing workplaces.” the article said.