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How To Manage Emotions in the Workplace

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Have you ever had an emotional outburst at work? Have you been there – having to fight and choke it down, because emotions are so frowned upon? All too often, handling our emotions–more likely the negative ones–at work is seen as a measure of our professionalism. Having to manage emotions in the workplace is necessary because of this social stigma. We can fight the stigma, because emotions are an integral part of our beings and can always help us if we treat them with grace. But until we can change the stigma, keep yourself safe by learning how to manage emotions in the workplace.

Suppressing emotions is never a good thing at home or at work. But spilling your guts out to your boss is not always safe, either. It may cost you your job. 

manage emotions in the workplace

Take Your Power Back by Managing Your Emotions

Positive Psychology claims that emotional resilience can empower you to bounce back. We all have it and it continues to develop throughout our life. Whilst you power through the storm you will encounter emotional, mental, and physical factors that may impair how competent you are at functioning. 

So when you want to “bite back with venom,” don’t! Do not let factors heavily impair how you function at work. One of the various recognizable workplace hazards is discrimination. It may be because you are a different sex or a different race. The first step in being resilient in either one of these cases is self-awareness. 

Self-Awareness and Social Factors

Social factors can affect your employment. When these social complications creep into your place of work, interaction and productivity can be negatively impacted. Use self-awareness to identify which factors are present. Is the social factor because of your identity or a media portrayal?

manage emotions in the workplace

Don’t Count Me Out

The way we identify with each other plays an important role in our loyalty as an employee. If we do not feel as if we are a part of the team, our sense of value goes down. We’re singled out because of our sexuality, if we are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, our race, values, and even our education.  Be cautious of “cliques” in the workplace and individuals who convey they are homophobic or racist. 

Media portrayal, whether on social media or television, heightens negative stereotypes. Take for example the Black Lives Matter Movement. There are positive minority role models speaking out about the oppression victims have faced at the hands of policemen. But there are also negative role models speaking over the voices of minorities by focusing on the looting of shops as if damaged physical property is more of a tragedy than the systemic loss of Black lives. Is having “watercooler conversations” about this going to benefit you in the moment? If you are a minority hire meeting the diversity and inclusion quota, will this media portrayal of BLM affect how your co-workers look at you if you openly support the movement? 

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To Document or Not To Document

We need to look at ourselves objectively and identify those triggers. Am I upset at work because of the social factors around me? Did I say something that may have offended my co-worker(s)? Is this serious enough to report to the human resources department? Do I have documentation with dates, times, and maybe a witness to give an unbiased statement? 

Although it may seem like a lot to ask yourself, these questions are making you more self-aware of your actions, strengths and weaknesses. Further identifying these can help with your intentions and refocus the purpose of your direction in the workplace. 

Keeping detailed receipts of interactions or conversations either by Google Drive, a word document or excel document, or a journal is a good thing even if you feel like there is no issue. You should document every conversation that you have with your lead or manager that impacts you, good or bad. 

If you have an office mate you trust, make them aware. If you feel uncomfortable with conversations with your manager, ask for a third party to be present. Remember, you have a voice and you want communication to be clear and effective. 

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How Can I Be Aware of and Manage My Emotions at the Same Time?

So what does it mean to be self-aware and manage your emotions in the workplace? It means to intend to speak with purpose, identify triggers or social factors, and let staff know when something is not okay. We live in a society that favors heterosexual, white privileged, cisgender men. Society often overlooks other people, like cisgender women, transgender people, and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

manage emotions in the workplace with a cheery desk space

Because society doesn’t acknowledge our feelings as much, we’ve come to think this action is okay. This is the case for a lot of female employees because as women we are to stay in our place and not be emotional. We aren’t supposed to have our feelings acknowledged as much as a man’s. 

Whenever you feel discomfort, interrogate that. Ask yourself why it might be happening. Remember that you deserve to feel good. You’re feeling uncomfortable for a reason, and often that can point to a problem that you may or may not be able to solve. Identifying it as an external, social issue, such as racial or sexual discrimination, can at least help you understand where you are. Even if it can’t be solved, hold onto that knowledge. With self-awareness, you can regulate your emotions until you can give yourself the time you need to fully express them and therefore start to process them. Self-awareness contributes to a deeper understanding of how those emotions contribute to our actions.

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