No Hard Feelings

no title has been provided for this book
Author: Liz Fosslien
Publisher: Portfolio
Published: 1/22/2019
When it comes to emotions at work, there's rarely a happy medium. In some offices, your boss might send snaps of her weekend getaway in Vegas, or your coworker might send twenty texts about how Susan ate his clearly labeled lunch...again. Other offices are buttoned-up emotional deserts, where crying is only allowed in the bathroom and you suspect your coworkers might be robots. Either extreme hurts employee health and productivity.

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

About the Authors

Liz Fosslien works as a design and marketing consultant with clients such as Reddit, Zumper, and Ernst & Young. Born in 1985, she attended Pomona College and graduated with a degree in Economic/Math. Liz also doubles as the Content and Editorial head at Humu and as an illustrator for the Wall Street Journal. She previously worked for New Genius and lives in California. Liz has a passion to help remote workers overcome burnout and help create a culture of belonging within organizations.

Mollie West Duffy describes herself as an organizational designer and is the current organizational lead designer at IDEO. Mollie has consulted for organizations that underwent large-scale organizational change. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Commerce and from Parsons School of Design with an MFA. Mollie is also an entrepreneur and researcher. She writes regularly for Fast Company, the Stanford Social Review and Quartz.


No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work is a useful guide to understand and manage emotions in the workplace. The workplace is an emotional minefield that requires careful navigation. Liz Fosslien and Molly Duffy give practical steps in a hilarious manner on how to avoid emotional burnout at the office and find a healthy work-life balance. The authors show how managing emotions at work is important in staying motivated.

Chapter 1: The Future is Emotional

  1. Humans are emotional creatures by nature. At one time or the other, we all feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and insecure at work. Emotions will always be there- so it’s time you learned to deal with them.
  2. However, most people choose avoidance and suppression in order to appear professional at the workplace. However, this often leads to anxiety and burnout
  3. You have heard that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a good predictor of success in the workplace. EQ requires that professionals of the future learn from, and talk about emotions without becoming emotional.

Chapter 2: Health-Be less passionate about your job: Why taking a chill pill makes you healthier

  1. How many times do you check your email at work? For most people, the average time is ten minutes? Being too passionate about work is unhealthy!
  2. Your mood at home shouldn’t be influenced by your mood at the job.
  3. What is the solution to the above problem? There are basically two options-take a holiday or be less passionate about the job (the second option is easier and cheaper!)

Chapter 3: Motivation--Inspire yourself

  1. Most employees are not motivated at the workplace. The level of engagement is often low due to lack of flexibility and creativity. What does this mean? Going to work for most people is a daily chore.
  2.  How do you get motivated and stay motivated? Finding a sense of purpose is your starting point. Reward yourself every time you feel you have accomplished a goal.
  3. Connect with people at the workplace who are inspiring--tap into that uplifting, positive energy and get motivated

Chapter 4: Decision Making--Emotion is part of the equation: Why good decisions rely on examining your emotions

  1. Most people believe that making decisions is a process that is unemotional. Well, that is not true. Emotions are always at work consciously or unconsciously
  2. Since we can’t ignore our emotions, we ought to manage them. This form of emotional decision-making takes practice and involves embracing some emotions and ignoring others.
  3. This means starting by considering what emotions we feel when making decisions. Are the emotions relevant or irrelevant to the decision at hand? For example, firing an employee when you are angry is likely to cloud your judgment.

Chapter 5: Teams-Psychological safety first: Why the how matters more than the who

  1. In a team setting, junior staffers often feel too shy to express their true feelings. They fear making a fool of themselves before senior members. This is referred to as psychological safety--the ease of interacting freely without fear of embarrassment.
  2. Why is psychological safety important? Effective teams that excel in performance are those that operate with high levels of psychological safety.
  3. As a team leader, the first order of business is to ensure psychological safety. How do you do that practically? Start off with a session where you ask absurd questions to allow team members to loosen up. Serious discussions can follow after that.

Chapter 6: Communication-Why you shouldn’t get emotional about your emotions

  1. Imagine talking to a colleague who appears condescending at work. Your anger and irritation has been simmering to the point of blowing up like a volcano. How long can you keep your emotions in check before blowing up?
  2. The answer is to accept that you get emotional. Once you accept this as a fact, try to voice your emotions without getting emotional. In the above example, try to calmly ask your colleague why they talk condescendingly to you.
  3. Communicating unemotionally is similar to proofreading an email. In the same manner, you can also proofread you emotions as you communicate at the workplace to avoid being misunderstood.

Chapter 7: Culture--emotional culture cascades from you: why I make small actions make a big difference

  1.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Consider an emoji--even though it is small, it is a gesture that communicates a lot.
  2. As a manager, create a culture that is sensitive to all employees--introverts, extroverts, and those in between. For example, create an exit strategy for introverts that makes them exit difficult meetings without feeling embarrassed
  3. Be creative. Explore what works and start small. For example, instead of holding a meeting when seated with an introvert, walk! Walking reduces eye contact and enables them to loosen up.

Chapter 8: Leadership-be selectively vulnerable: Why how you share matters

  1. Most leaders project a persona of “keeping it together” in terms of emotions. This high bar is difficult to achieve for employees who are stressed and on edge due to work pressures.
  2. Leaders should show some of their weaknesses. This communicates to employees that nobody is perfect--we all have bad days and emotional melt-downs some time.
  3. Showing emotional vulnerability is important in building a culture of tolerance and reduces emotional tension at work.


Learning to manage emotions at work makes the workplace more enriching, productive, and less stressful. The authors give practical ideas on how to avoid feeling overwhelmed and having an emotional breakdown. This book is a quick read on understanding emotional intelligence and achieving a positive work-life balance. Feeling stressed and unmotivated at work? This book will definitely offer you some pointers.


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