Emotional Attachment: A Man’s Greatest Professional Weakness?

work, lunch, office
Source: iStock

The Terminator — the sometimes villainous machine from the action movies — didn’t have time for things like compassion, love, or empathy. Instead, as a machine, it was programmed to complete its objectives, whether that meant hunting down Linda Hamilton, or protecting a young and spry Edward Furlong. The point is, the Terminator was ruthlessly efficient.

And its efficiency is mostly attributed to the fact it was not programmed to experience emotion — the thing that truly makes humans human. Of course, the Terminator also didn’t have family obligations, hobbies, or a significant other’s feelings to consider. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strike a balance.

Even so, emotional attachment — particularly in your field of work or professional life — has its drawbacks. You can be passionate about what you do, and have excellent relationships with your coworkers, clients, etc. But there are times when your emotions, or attachments, can hamstring your ability to flourish.

For example, you may be in a position in which you are offered a promotion at a competing firm. It comes with all of the things you had hoped for, like a raise, more vacation days, a telecommute policy, and even the ability to bring your dog to work. Hot damn!

Yet, you find yourself in a bit of an emotional struggle. You don’t want to quit; you like the job you have now. You’re comfortable there, and you don’t want to upset or disappoint your managers. Plus, you’ve been there for a while, and can pretty much run the daily gauntlet with your eyes closed.

Simply put, taking the new job, though beneficial to your career in the long-term, would throw your world into a temporary state of flux. That can be stressful, and almost painful in some instances. But you know that you’ll probably regret it if you stay put. So, what to do?

This is just one example of how emotional attachment can hang up your career. Of course, many people wouldn’t mind leaving their jobs in the least bit. And doing so for a promotion? There’s no way you could stop them from leaving. But what if you’re not one of those people? What if you were cursed with a sense of sentimentality, and it plagues you to no end?

Well, you might be hurting yourself, in an economic sense.

Here’s another example: you want a raise, but feel guilty, or even bad, about asking for one. Hell, you probably deserve a raise — but you know the owner of your firm has had a tough year, and you don’t want to be yet another point of stress, or whatever the reason.

Remember — your boss is not your friend. Sure, you can be friends with your boss, but you have a professional relationship. You don’t go to work for fun, after all. Why should you care if you stress your boss out by asking for a raise? If they want to keep you around, they should compensate you fairly, and keep you happy.

Again, you’ve allowed your emotional attachment to a job or profession hold you back. In this sense, emotional attachment, sentimentality, and empathy for your employer are actually hurting you. It’s a weakness. They’ve written songs about this kind of thing.

There are numerous ways that being over emotional, or simply being too attached to a specific position, can hurt you. It restricts your mobility in that you don’t necessarily want to leave your job for another, even if it means you’ll be better off. It means that employers can use your emotions against you to keep you docile, so that you won’t ask for more money, or threaten to leave. And it could mean giving up promotions or other big professional leaps, leaving your right where you are for years.

So, what can you do? Check your emotions and leave them at the door. You can still maintain relationships, but remember that work is work. This can be quite a hurdle for some people, to try and erect some mental barriers, but it could make a huge difference for your career prospects.

Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger

Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.