How to manage emotions in the workplace
Tensions and conflict are an inevitable part of working life. In a lot of cases, so are stress, anger, fear and sadness; basic human emotions that we’re all vulnerable to.
However, learning how to manage your emotions in the workplace can have huge benefits, not just for you personally but also for your colleagues and clients. When you achieve emotional balance, you’ll be more productive, easier to work with, well-liked and personable. On a macro level, more people will want to work with you and you’ll get more business. The list goes on.
But in the highly volatile environment of the modern workplace, it’s not easy. Deadlines, the temperament of colleagues and other factors beyond your control can test even the patience of the most balanced individual.
At Cegos, we often work with teams who are experiencing some level of conflict. A big part of reducing tensions is to help people get to grips with negative emotions and focus on the positive.
As such, we help professionals develop five core emotional skills:
1) Understand your emotions
Most of our negative emotions emanate from the reptilian part of our brain – the one responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response that was so important to the survival of our distant ancestors.
Today, these base emotions can get the better of us if we let them. Think of mentally playing out negative conversations with a person who has annoyed you. Inevitably, you anticipate the situation getting worse and aggravated to the point of no return. That’s your reptilian brain talking, so you need to get the more reasonable, logical side of your brain to calm it down.
Understanding the kind of triggers that get you all riled up is a good way to start. When you know what kind of situation can trigger negative emotions – such as engaging with a particular colleague or difficult tasks – then you can prepare for them mentally. Sometimes, you should let yourself feel the emotion and then find an outlet that makes you feel better.
2) Experience emotions
When you experience negative emotions, you should try to direct your energy into something more positive. Be confident and optimistic instead of being pessimistic all the time. Accept that, sometimes, you are going to feel negative but try to address this in the best way you can. Find solutions to help combat problematic emotions, part of which is learning how to deal with the temperament of others.
3) Be open to other people’s emotions
You can take steps to control your own emotions but it’s certainly a bigger challenge to encourage others to do the same. Nonetheless, you can influence a more positive mood by learning how to empathise with people in difficulty.
It’s important to listen and recognise signals that show people may be in some distress or lacking confidence. Taking an active interest in others is key to a positive relationship, which helps you avoid negative emotions in the first place.
4) Express emotions in a constructive way
If you’re unhappy about something, then suffering in silence is rarely the best policy. Instead, learn how to express dissatisfaction in a constructive way that gets the point across without aggravating the situation. Likewise, encouraging others in your team to do this will reduce the chance of conflict and lead to a more pleasant working environment. Listening to the concerns of others is paramount, and talking openly about your own fears can help to allay them.
5) Manage emotions in tense situations
Try to accommodate other people’s strong emotions and stay calm in the face of provocation. If you need to be critical, do it constructively – focus on the positives first, followed by the necessary criticism. Ideally, follow the criticism with a proposed solution.
When you’re faced with a tense situation or conflict, you need to show a certain amount of self-restraint. If someone else is angry and aggressive, the temptation is to answer it with the same emotional response. But we all know this helps no-one and does little, if anything, to resolve the conflict.
There are other things you can do to help manage your emotions. Breathing exercises, keeping physically fit and getting plenty of sleep make you less prone to irrational outbursts and puts you firmly in control.
In the end, a happy, confident and emotionally-balanced ‘you’ will achieve much more than the alternative.
If your team needs help managing their emotions in the workplace or with conflict resolution, get in touch with us today.