Managing Emotions in the Workplace: 3 Simple strategies

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Managing emotions in the workplace is a skill every employee wants to build in themselves as when we enter the workplace, we don’t choose which emotions to bring with us. Hence, depending on situations our positive emotions can help us create a better understanding with others. On the other hand, our negative emotions can result in conflicts and miscommunication.  

Therefore, it’s important to have emotional intelligence at work. Emotional Intelligence is the ability of an employee to understand, manage and regulate their as well as their colleagues’ emotions. At work, this not only affects the well-being of individuals, but also the outcomes of the organization such as conflict resolution and performance.

Hence, for the past three decades, organizational professionals are trying to build this intelligence into their employees. A few strategies have found popularity in this endeavour. These are: 

  1. Investigating your Triggers

Instead of learning how to manage situations after an emotional outburst, it’s better to take a preventative approach that helps to look for the specific triggers that result in those negative emotional behaviors in the first place. This even helps deal with issues at their root level, thus preventing similar behavior in the future.

Try to ask yourself, as well as your employees, the following questions to investigate triggers:

  • What are a few common triggers that evoke strong emotion within you?
  • Who are a few people that usually invoke these emotions within you?
  • In what circumstances do you usually lose your control of emotions?
  • What is your usual reaction to those triggers?
  • Are your emotions coming from within you, or something external caused them?

If you can’t identify your triggers, try keeping a mood journal where you write your emotions regularly. Try to find the patterns that help to identify the triggers and your usual reaction to the triggers. Doing this can further open a window of reflection that helps to find solutions for those triggers.

The researchers also suggested that managers should look for the same emotional triggers in themselves that they do in employees. Having that similar level of self-awareness allows them to better understand when they are feeling overwhelmed and what they can do about it.

  1. Use the 10 second rule: 

The 10-second rule states that a stronger outburst of emotion can be controlled by the individual if they take just 10 seconds to recompose themselves. In those ten seconds, they can use any mindfulness exercises to control their breath and reassess the situation. Taking deep breaths while counting 1 to 10 is one of the effective strategies for that. 

In situations when you get too overwhelmed that you can’t focus on breathing, try to get some distance from the conflict and tell the other person that you aren’t feeling up to the discussion at the moment and will join them after a while.

  1. Managing the situation: 

After taking some time to reflect on a situation, plan how you will respond to the situation, for this purpose reflect on the situation to come up with both learnings and solutions:

  • What could be a mature response to the triggering situation?
  • What could be the perspective of the other person who was on the opposite side of your emotions?
  • What are a few things that need to be resolved before you can move forward?
  • How can you help in building those resolutions?
  • What did you learn from this situation that you can apply to future situations like it?

Managing emotions of other employees

With diversity in employees, it’s quite usual to see heat in the office. With some corrective measures, it’s easier to help others to gain their composure in the workplace. A few strategies include: 

  • Taking a break or allowing the 10-second rule to help them gain composure and fresh perspective.
  • Suggesting a meeting to discuss the raised issue and making the emotional overwhelming parties come with possible solutions. 
  • Helping employees to make small rituals to deal with their triggers. 
  • Click here to learn how to deal with workplace conflicts effectively.
  • Click here to learn a few cross-cultural team-building techniques.

Remember to make sure that the managing process tries to help employees understand their emotions without making them feel criticized or ridiculed. 

Pro tip: Employee Assisting Program can help employees to talk to professionals that help them to gain extra perspective to understand and manage their emotions effectively. 

When we bring ourselves to work, we also bring our hundreds of emotions. These emotions can have a positive or negative impact on our work depending upon how effectively we can understand them and work actively to manage our biggest challenging emotions. Learning to manage our most challenging emotions takes effort and time, but it is worth it as it not only helps in our work but also outside of work. 


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