Managing Emotions in the Workplace

Take the time to manage your emotional responses

When it comes to the workplace, the environment is one of the major factors in employee success and tenure. A positive environment will usually earn long term loyalty, whereas a negative environment can prompt even the most determined employee to start brushing up resumes and submitting job applications. Inevitably though, even in the best work environment in a great location, a thriving industry, and a competitive salary, you will face challenges from time to time that can trigger strong emotional reactions.  And what if you actually work in an environment that’s always full of negative energy where everyone’s emotions are all over the place, but for various reasons you aren’t able to look for or find a new position somewhere else? Learn to manage your emotions in the workplace can give you more control, a more positive mindset, and empower you to make the most out of your time there, regardless of how long or short that is. Here are a few tips for managing emotions at work.

Learn your emotions

This might seem really simple but most of us don’t think about identifying our exact emotion, let alone try to dissect why we feel that specific emotion. Most of the time we tend to put our emotions in only a few different categories when in reality, they are much more complex than that.  Emotions at Work by Elizabeth Bakken highlights the diversity of the emotions we experience at work. She writes, “The range of emotions we experience at work is enormous. During a 5-minute presentation to your boss, you might fell worried, proud, relieved, and happy, and your boss might experience a variety of feelings as well. In fact, whether we are aware of it or not, as we work, we are constantly moving from one emotional state to another.”  Learn to correctly identify what you are feeling in order to help you not only understand yourself better but also successfully navigate through any stressful ones so they don’t drag down your work or your mood, as well as utilize the positive emotions to improve your productivity and mindset.

Take the time to ask yourself why

Once you experience a strong emotion and learn to identify it, you have to ask yourself why you felt that way. If you regularly experience the same negative reaction to the same person or situation, you have to investigate it before you can change it. Susan David from the Harvard Business Review writes in this article, “It’s been shown that when people don’t acknowledge and address their emotions, they display lower wellbeing and more physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches. There is a high cost to avoiding our feelings.” Take the time.  In other words, take a moment to be still, take a breath and then after you are more in control, to identify the reason it bothers you so much. Then strategize the best way to handle the situation, whether that means discussing it with the other person or with your manager, finding ways to release the stress so it no longer frustrates you, or coming up with a new solution that resolves the issue.

Beware the pitfalls of making assumptions

The truth is that we’re really only familiar with our own thoughts, so it’s very easy to draw conclusions about a situation, such as a moment we had with a co-worker, without knowing what they were actually thinking. Asking questions and being compassionate are the best ways to make sure that you fully understand what’s happening and consider the reality of others’ viewpoints as well as your own

Realize you are the only one who controls your emotions

Other people might try to get a certain response from you, but only you have the power to choose your emotions. While you can’t change other people and their actions and reactions, you CAN change your own. If you continue to struggle with the same negative situation at work, often the best place to start is intentionally choosing a different response and a positive outlook. Sometimes you will find that the issue wasn’t so daunting after all, and you are now empowered to just let it go. Other times it needs action steps to be resolved, but at the very least, a fresh perspective will put you in a better frame of mind before you start addressing the situation itself.

When you learn to identify and find the root of your emotions, then you can take responsibility for them and manage them much better in challenging circumstances. Another wise observation in Emotions at Work states that “Emotions often have a positive impact at work. Learning to manage our most challenging emotions takes effort, but the payoff is big. We learn to deal with problems before they overwhelm us, we’re better team participants, and, most importantly, we increase our sense of control and effectiveness in our lives—both at work and outside work.” So embrace them, analyze them, master them, and utilize them in a positive way; it will no doubt transform how you operate in your work environment and daily life beyond. JL Nixon Consulting, Inc. will help you evaluate your career, see the benefits of your current position as well as growth potential for your future.