By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service & Communication Keynote Speaker & President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service, Inc.

Emotional Leakage – Getting at mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun.

We’ve all seen it happen.

A co-worker comes into work storming angry; mouth turned down in a frown; walks through the office without saying hello to anyone; sits down at his desk and starts barking orders to his coworkers; doesn’t come out of his office; and when his phone rings he picks it up and bellows out: “Yea?”

Sad isn’t it? Something must have happened before he got to work and he carried it right inside the building. Telephone Doctor calls this “Emotional Leakage” and we cure it all the time.

Hey, it’s no fun to get up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. And it’s sure not fun to get a flat tire on the way to work or to argue with someone before breakfast. It’s unfortunate that some people aren’t able to shake it off and move on about their business.

Emotional leakage is getting mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun. Taking a negative emotion out on someone who wasn’t involved. How RUDE can you get?

If emotionally leaking on co-workers certainly isn’t fair, then emotionally leaking on customers is even worse than not fair.

The customer or co-worker, in most cases, wasn’t involved with whatever put you in a bad mood, so why take it out on them? Few things are more unfair and damaging to a relationship than emotional leaking a negative experience on someone who wasn’t involved. And yet, unfortunately it happens every day. At home, in the office, on the streets, in the stores. 

Personal Note: While shopping the other day, the person helping me was obviously not in a good mood at all. In fact, I think if she smiled her face would have cracked. She gave me one word answers and usually none, she kept turning her head to see who was coming or going. (I wasn’t sure.) She was throwing my vegetables and fruits into the bag not caring how they landed.

Normally, I walk out on that type of service. It’s just not worth my time to be treated like that. But this time, I was in a hurry and needed the product. So I did something I don’t normally do, I asked her if everything was all right? Was she OK? I tried to make it sound as though I was interested (even though I wasn’t). But I sure didn’t want her negative emotions leaking on me any longer.

With a big sigh and a sad face she told me she and her boyfriend had a big fight the night before and she was hoping he’d come by and apologize.

“Excuse me,” I said, “was I with you?” Believe it or not she smiled and said, “Of course not.” Then I nicely told her, “If I wasn’t there, I don’t want to be part of that argument.”

She started to apologize, as well she should. Then I thought about a vase I had once. I dropped it. It broke into several pieces. My husband, Dick, and I talked about whether we should take it somewhere and have a professional put it back together. Dick said, “We can do that if you’d like, but it will never be the same. You’ll always feel the cracks.”

And so it is with our co-workers and customers. You can be in a bad mood – be it an argument, a flat tire or break a favorite item. And you can apologize, but people still remember how you treated them; how you made them feel. And they will – for a long time, too.

So how do we cure emotional leakage? It’s a quick 4-step Telephone Doctor process.

Stop what you’re doing.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Put on a phony smile (yes, you can).
  3. Regain your professional composure.
  4. And then talk with the person – in-person or on the phone.


Emotionally leaking on someone is NEVER right, NEVER fair and NEVER fun.

There are times others emotionally leak on us. Think how you feel when that happens to you and then remember to never emotionally leak on others.

Keep saying it – it’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s not fun.


Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.