Five Tips For Keeping Emotions In Check At Work
Your morning started out with your seven-year-old arguing with you because she wanted to wear her pajamas to school. You stuck to your guns, she got dressed. You finally dropped her off at school, but she was still upset and as she jumped out of the car she told you she hates you. You shook it off, continued on your way to work, you got stuck in traffic, spilled coffee on your expensive silk blouse, and you have a major presentation due in thirty minutes. Your co-worker walks in your door just as you are about to get your morning emails started and before you know it, you have snapped at the coworker for absolutely no reason. Instead of apologizing, you know you are wrong, you let the moment pass. Your emotions took control and it will be a struggle to regain command of your day.
Professionalism requires us to keep our emotions in check, provided there is no neurological problem or diagnosed personality disorder for which you are under treatment. For the rest of us, we are responsible for our behavior at work. I’ve written some tips to help you manage your emotions during the workday.
- First understand the difference between stress and anger. When you feel pressure from your home life, it is very easy to allow that pressure to reveal itself as anger in the workplace. If it is stress that you are feeling, it is likely caused by circumstances in your personal life and can be managed. If it is anger, figure out what is causing it. Take an honest look at your situation and ask yourself – is it truly anger that you feel? If you are consistently feeling angry while at work, perhaps you are in the wrong career or position.
- Make it a practice to spend the first ten minutes of your day preparing your mind for work. Even if it means coming in a few minutes early to have some quiet space and time before the rush of the day begins. It will allow you a little time to decompress. Allowing the day to start at a rapid pace while you are still feeling the stress of your morning can spell disaster.
- Keep in mind that in order to alleviate some of your personal stresses, you must first achieve professional goals. If you are stressed because of money, achieving professional goals will help you earn more. If you are stressed about time and balance, getting the work done efficiently without outside influences will allow you more flexibility to your schedule. There is a direct connection between achieving professional goals and finding personal balance. It is to your benefit to control your emotions while at work.
- Keep a daily journal of your emotions. Start to write down each time you begin to feel that surge of anger or stress. When you feel that heat begin to rush to your brain, what is happening? What are the circumstances surrounding your sudden feelings? If you start to a journal you will begin to see patterns. Once you see the patterns you can begin to address them. Plus, as an added bonus, writing can be therapeutic. The simple act of writing feelings down can dis-empower them and may help you remain in control.
- Understand your own personality. Take a Myer’s Brigg personality inventory and have it interpreted. If you understand your personality, you will begin to understand the automatic way in which you respond to situations. For example, if you are right handed you will pick up the pencil and start to write with that hand without even thinking about it. You are perfectly capable, physiologically speaking, to use your left hand. You have all the same muscles, same amount of fingers, and the same brain. But, you automatically use your right hand. You have an automatic preference for your right hand. Your personality works the same way. You will automatically respond to situations out of an unconscious preference. This unconscious conditioning is based on your personality. Understanding this will be helpful as you learn to manage these responses.
Keeping your emotions in check while at work will help you become a more valuable employee. It will help you become a more successful entrepreneur, salesperson, or coach. No matter what your field, understanding that emotions can make or break you is the first step to taking control.