Have you ever cried at work? Slammed a door? Felt your temper throbbing in anger?
Most of us have allowed emotions to creep into the workplace either because a co-worker, a boss or even a customer managed to slip past our self-control.
Emotions are what make us human. However, learning to manage them is what makes us a better communicator. We’ve all seen “that” interview go horribly wrong on a news show when the interviewee allowed the interviewer to press one of their hot buttons.
Do you know your hot buttons? It’s taken a while for me to identify mine. I can feel myself getting hot under the collar when I feel like I am being unappreciated or taken advantage of. I also feel really annoyed when I think other people don’t respect hard deadlines or the work that goes into projects.
I found myself taking a lot. Then suddenly, I blow up over something relatively small. What I’ve learned over the years is if the real issues had been addressed much earlier, I would not have allowed the situation to escalate. The feeling of being undervalued or feeling that my time wasn’t important was very real.
I’ve learned you must look for a positive. Maybe “they” dumped that project on you at the last minute because you’ve excelled all the other times. That small glimmer can help you move past the frustration. They probably didn’t do it to deliberately annoy you.
Anger is generally a mask for deeper feelings. Anger is something that builds. If you learn to recognize it early, you can address the root causes before you blow. Does your boss missing deadlines add undo stress on you? Try adjusting your due date to compensate for the problem before it occurs.
Disappointment is the emotion which effects work more than any other one. Disappointment leads to low energy, morale issues, and makes you ok with the status quo. If you are passed over for promotions or project leads, it can be hard to get excited about coming to work every day. It’s up to you to find those small glimmers that make your day better. Maybe you can learn a new skill which will show your manager you have more to contribute. Perhaps you can volunteer for an organization and gain that sense of contribution you desire.
What if you aren’t the one who is emotional? What if you are the one dealing with an emotional co-worker? Sometimes you need to let them vent and listen to what they are really saying. Don’t interrupt. Ask questions that force them to provide details and thoughts. Don’t let them interrupt you when you respond. If they can’t calm down, tell them to take a pause. Let them know the conversation can’t continue in the current manner. Take a break if necessary and address it again later.
If you are the emotional one take time to identify what it is you are feeling and why. Change your self-talk (is it really true that no one cares how it impacts you, here we go again, no one listens). Affirm your rights – you are in control of you. Walk away. Take a breath. Then be strategic about your communications. Address the real issue, offer suggestions or ask for help.
By taking the emotion down a notch, you are establishing more credibility as a professional.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned is:
- You get to choose how you react.
- Try not to react in the moment.
- Keep your composure. Breath slowly, maintain eye contact and disagree respectfully if you need to
- Excuse yourself. It’s ok to tell someone you need to take some time before you continue the discussion. Set a time to come back and address the issue at hand once you’ve had time to collect your thoughts.