After successfully closing a $25 million deal with Sony, Anne Kreamer, a senior vice president at the children's cable channel Nickelodeon, got a call from Sumner Redstone. It was the first time the chairman and majority owner of Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, had ever called her.
"I was anticipating high-fiving and congratulations. Instead, I got eviscerated. He screamed at me for 90 seconds," says Ms. Kreamer, who believed that Mr. Redstone, who was then planning a takeover of Paramount Communications, was expecting Viacom's share price to sharply rise as a result of the Sony deal. It didn't. She cried after the call ended.
"It was a completely natural response to the circumstances. I realized [Mr. Redstone's] was the inappropriate behavior," says Ms. Kreamer, who told the story in a book she later wrote about emotions in the workplace: "It's Always Personal."
"If I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have felt as ashamed by it," she says. "Nobody should."
Whether you cry or lose your composure because you're blamed for something that wasn't your fault or snapped at by an angry customer, there's a stigma attached to emotional responses in the workplace that compels many executives to just bottle up their feelings.
The unhealthful result of what experts call "emotional suppression" has been shown in studies to cloud thinking, promote job unhappiness and negatively impact work performance. That's why experts say that it's important for employees to be attuned to what their emotional triggers are so responses—even in more extreme cases—can be predictably managed for more productive outcomes.