Is Being More Human at Work Really Unprofessional?

by Mar 3, 2023

Is being more human at work really unprofessional? I remember being a mother for the first time and returning to my corporate office. I had left my little baby behind and I was worried for her well-being. I thought about her being alone in that day care and having all the feels first-time mothers experience. Every time my baby coughed or had a runny nose, I would lose sleep worrying about asking my boss for a day off to take care of her. It was ok once. It was somewhat ok the second time but by the third time, I was asked to choose between being a mother or an employee. 

That was back in 2008 and it’s hard to imagine that flying today. Our world has changed (a bit) but at that time it sent a clear message that you do NOT bring your personal stuff to work- it was “just business- nothing personal.”

So, this got me to thinking- how often are our feelings hurt in meetings and later we’re told – don’t take it personally- it’s just business? 

The notion that humans should separate emotions from their work life is bizarre. When we are asked to do this, it creates a toxic environment where managers and leaders learn to be detached from their employees’ feelings and who they are as human beings. If you start treating people as a resource to achieve the company agenda and priorities, people stop caring personally. 


What’s the cost of being more human at work?

  • These environments cause employees to stop caring about going above and beyond- they will do the minimum expected to keep their jobs
  • They stop caring about their colleagues, engagements, and being committed to their company
  • Those employees will not take a risk for a “jerk” boss
  • There is a lack of innovation because innovation requires security and safety.  If employees worry about being fired when they take a sick day- cross innovation right off!

But most importantly, they stop trusting you as their LEADER. How can we trust somebody who says it’s not personal- just business?

New generation of managers care personally. They actually care about people on their team doing what they love, their career growth. or if their parents are dying or if they ask you to use a different pronoun that makes them feel more included, and most of all, when people care personally – they will do their BEST to be the best. 

So, please start caring. We can’t leave parts of our lives and hearts at home and still show up fully at work. 

Incivility, bullying, and harassment occur because the culture allows them to. Before starting inclusivity initiatives, you’ve got to stop bad behavior. Take this assessment to determine if your workplace fosters a positive culture.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Retention Challenges: Are Your Managers Leading Talent Out?

Are your managers leading talent through the door or out the door? If you are struggling with retention, it's time to make sure that your managers are trained in the most critical 3-C skills! For generations our work was process-driven. We created policies and...

Creating a Culture of Safety Recognition: Best Practices for Employers

Promoting a positive work culture and psychological safety as a crucial part of employee well-being and productivity - that’s why it’s at the top of our minds. How about yours? Part of creating a safe workplace environment involves encouraging employees to prioritize...

Webinar: Creating and Measuring Psychological Safety

In this 60-minute, 1 SHRM credit-earning webinar, you’ll learn how to: Define psychological safety and its importance in the workplace Measure psychological safety on teams  Brainstorm what behaviors create and/or corrode trust on teams  Understand the connection...

How to Identify a Low Performer on your Team

Do you have someone on your team who is: very hardworking and responsible, brings in the most revenue, super highIQ, works hard and puts in long hours…

Importance of Unconscious Bias Training

Everyone has unconscious biases, whether we acknowledge them or not. Bias, if recognized, might restrict your ability to connect with people or destroy existing ties. Personal preferences can impair work performance in all professionals, but notably in leaders and...

What Does Inclusive Culture Actually Mean?

There is so much talk about DEI these days. Diverse talent has become a hot commodity for any company and recruiters are fighting to get as many visibly diverse (aka BIPOC) candidates on their roaster as possible. Companies are demanding HR only hire diverse talent...

Newly Promoted Managers: Five Ways Companies Are Failing Them

What are the ways companies are failing their newly promoted managers? A recent Fortune magazine study found a mere seven percent of Fortune 500 CEOs think their companies are building effective leaders.  Ineffective leaders create ineffective toxic cultures that lead...

Top Three Priorities of Inclusive Leaders

The new modern digital world needs more inclusive leaders that care about their people and know how to support them in doing their best work.   People stay because of good managers and people leave because of bad ones. Which one do you want to be and what makes...

Is Being More Human at Work Really Unprofessional?

Is being more human at work really unprofessional? I remember being a mother for the first time and returning to my corporate office. I had left my little baby behind and I was worried for her well-being. I thought about her being alone in that day care and having all...

5 Signs of an Unhealthy Work Environment & How to Fix It

We hear a lot of various words and phrases being thrown around these days - toxic work environment, unhealthy work environment, lacking psychological safety, and more. In fact I’m often asked, “What is the definition of a toxic work environment?”  My response is, “Ask...