Emo Nemo. Drama Queen. Cry Baby.
Yeah, I’m almost certain that some of us have been called one of the names above before. At least once, and it isn’t a label that I’d welcome and be thankful for. Because emotions are part of us and it is normal for us to be emotional. Although, being overly emotional is taking a step too far.
But what would you do if the project you worked so hard at was cancelled; when a customer snaps at you unfairly; when the colleague whom you’re very close to was laid off; when your boss assigns you more work when you’re already overloaded! These are stressful situations and excuse me if I’m suddenly feel like breaking down. My natural reactions would either be to break down in tears or start shouting, or hiding in a corner and feel sorry for myself. Because, hey, aren’t we entitled to a little boo-hoo once in awhile? We’re not robots, you know.
But as much as I’d hate to admit, these types of behaviour at work could seriously harm my professional reputation and productivity. And you know why I’m bringing this up? Because it happened to me not too long ago and I’d like you all to be aware that while having a mental and emotional breakdown is completely normal, it won’t be taken too kindly and well by your peers or your manager.
Stressful situations are common in a workplace especially when you face an overload of information, constant changes, scarce resources. Sometimes, it can become harder and harder to manage your emotions under such pressured circumstances. But try, you must, to manage them. After all, if management is forced into making layoffs, they may choose to keep those who can keep tabs on their emotions and work well under pressure. So how can you improve on managing your emotions and how should you react to bad situations?
Below are some of the common emotions you’ll feel at your workplace:
- Frustration, annoyance, irritation
- Worry, nervousness, anxiety
- Anger, upset, aggravation
- Dislike, discomfort of working with someone
- Disappointment, unhappiness, feeling of inadequacy
Here’s what you can do when you feel them threatening to burst forth like a broken water dam:
Learn to accept and value your emotions at work
We cannot prevent emotions nor stop ourselves from feeling them. So we need to accept them. Accept that you will feel upset when a coworker snaps at you unnecessarily. Accept that you will feel disappointed if something you did didn’t go well. Accept that you will feel harried and unhappy when your workload triples despite having not met the previous deadlines. Accept that emotions at work are perfectly okay.
Pay attention to your body
Your body usually knows what emotion you are feeling before your mind does. Stop what you’re doing and take a moment to think about your physical sensations (pounding heart, shortness of breath, shaking hands, or sweaty palms). This is your chance to diffuse the negative feelings before they get the better of you.
Pay attention to your instincts
You know that gut feeling that tells you when something just ain’t right? Most of the time, we tend to ignore that gut feeling because it isn’t always right every time. But if alarm bells are going off in your head, your instincts are probably telling you to get the hell out of an uncomfortable situation right the f*** now! Instincts are the messages that your body sends to keep you out of danger. For once in our lives, we should really listen to them!
Pay attention to your perceptions
What you feel can reveal how you perceive an event or action, and most of the time, our perceptions have little to do with the other person involved. Try to make a habit of questioning your perceptions and assumptions. Ask yourself where they come from and whether there is evidence that they are correct.
Regulate your emotions at work
You can never stop yourself from experiencing emotions at work, and you really shouldn’t either because they would eventually build up and explode one day. Don’t be like me. I used to bottle it all up until one day, the dam burst and overflowed. Unfortunately for me, some people saw it and did not hesitate to report the situation to my manager. But you can learn to use them more effectively.
A negative situation will only get worse if you keep adding negative emotions to it. Step back and take a deep breath. This will help to calm your nervous system. Distract yourself from over-reacting. You will only be able to think clearly and properly when your scumbag brain isn’t obsessed with trying to murder the culprit six ways to Sunday or strangle the living shit out of the bad situation.
It goes without saying that we all have to deal with negative emotions at work sometimes, and learning how to cope with these feelings is important. Identify the causes of your negative emotions and which types of feelings you often face so that the next time those emotions threaten to appear, you will know when to interrupt the cycle. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pull yourself away from negative thinking. And now, I’d have to take this key information and advice and apply them to my life.