Dealing with Emotions at Work

March 9, 2009

It’s happened to all of us.  We’re going about our day, doing our jobs, when suddenly someone is screaming at us, insulting us, or generally making us wish we hadn’t gotten out of bed that morning.

 Learning to manage emotions is an important part of becoming a professional.  So how do you project a professional image while you’re screaming inside? Here are some tips to help you when emotions threaten to bubble over.During the conflict or incident:
1.  Focus on doing your job.  Specifically focusing on your duties and the task at hand will help you keep your emotions in check, and ensure you continue to perform well under stress.

2.  Don’t make it personal.  Whatever’s happening has nothing to do with your worth or value as a human being.  Again – focus on the task at hand and not on the emotion involved.

3.  Know what anger and frustration feel like to you.  If you pay attention to your body’s signals, you can recognize your emotions before they overwhelm you. 


 After the conflict or incident:

4.  Take a break.  Get away from the situation for a few minutes – take a walk, close your office door and take a few deep breaths, or excuse yourself to the bathroom – whatever you need to do for some time to yourself. 

5.  Distract yourself.  Listen to a song you love, play a game of solitaire, or peruse your Facebook page.  Shifting your focus will help shift your attitude. 
 6.  Resist the urge to vent openly about the situation, especially if it involves a co-worker.  Speaking with a trusted mentor or friend can be helpful, but don’t create divisions in the workplace or “take sides”.  Talking about others in a negative, unproductive way will only make you look bad. 

 7.  Once you’ve had some time to decompress, look back at the conflict in a constructive way (it may take days, hours, or even weeks for you to get to this point!)  Is there anything to be learned?  Would you have handled the situation differently, if you could do it again?  Can any changes be made to policies or processes to prevent this type of conflict from occurring in the future? 



Any time!
 8.  Take care of yourself.  Adequate sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise help to alleviate   stress both at work and at home.

 Managing your emotions at work is an important skill to learn.  It will take time and effort, but is definitely worth the investment!


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