Controlling Your Emotions in the Workplace

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Controlling Your Emotions in the Workplace

Emotion management is a critical skill for professionals, particularly women—for whom the display of emotion can mean being perceived as unable to handle stress or just another example of the female stereotype.

In your personal life, your reaction to stressful situations might be to start yelling, or to hide in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. But at work, this type of behavior could harm your professional reputation, as well as your productivity.

Stop and evaluate. One of the best things you can do is mentally stop yourself, and reassess at the situation. Ask yourself why you feel frustrated. Write it down if necessary, and be specific. Then think of one positive thing about your current situation. For instance, if your client or colleague is late for your meeting, then you have more time to prepare. Or, you could use this time to relax a little.

Thinking about a positive aspect of your situation often makes you look at things in a different way. This small change in your thinking and attitude can greatly improve your mood. When it’s people who are causing your frustration, they’re probably not doing it deliberately to annoy you – so don’t take it personally. Don’t get mad, just move on.

Don’t surround yourself with worry and anxiety. For example, if coworkers gather in the break room to gossip and talk about job cuts, then don’t go there and worry with everyone else. Worrying tends to lead to more worrying, and that isn’t good for anyone.

Focus your thoughts and energy on how to improve the situation. If you fear being laid off, and you sit there and worry, that probably won’t help you keep your job. Instead, why not brainstorm ways to bring in more business, and show how valuable you are to the company?

Adjust your goal. If you’re disappointed that you didn’t reach a goal, that doesn’t mean the goal is no longer attainable. Keep the goal, but make a small change such as setting out a new course of action or extending the deadline. Things won’t always go your way, but keeping a positive mindset will help you stay on track.

Watch for early signs of anger. Only you know the danger signs when anger is building, so learn to recognize them when they begin. Stopping your anger early is key. Remember, you can choose how you react in a situation. Just because your first instinct is to become angry doesn’t mean it’s the correct response.

If you start to get angry, take a minute and stop what you’re doing. Close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. This interrupts your angry thoughts, and it helps put you back on a more positive path. Out-of-control anger is perhaps the most destructive emotion that people experience in the workplace. It’s also the emotion that most of us don’t handle very well. If you have trouble managing your temper at work, then learning to control it is one of the best things you can do if you want to keep your job.

While emotion management sounds great in theory, it can be a challenge to practice it in the real work world. Know what causes your negative emotions, and which types of feelings you face most often. When those emotions begin to appear, immediately start your strategy to interrupt the cycle. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pull yourself away from negative thinking.

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