Emotions at work are inevitable, but controlling emotions can be tricky.
I’m sharing 3 of my most critical tips for managing emotions at work.
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I’m Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris, and I’ve spent the last 15 years helping women with many career-related issues, including handling the mix of emotions, from elation all the way to anger, that feature in any career that’s worth having.
After I share the three tips that I’ve talked through with many clients, I’ll let you into a secret of the power of a single sentence.
whisper* which can reduce negative judgements people have of you by 20%, particularly if you are a woman showing emotions, like anger, disbelief or dismay at work.
So grab a cuppa, put away the tissues and remember these 3 tips for how to control your emotions. Are you ready to roll?
It’s normal to have emotions at workplace. People often dismissively say ‘ Don’t take it personally, but I get it, you take your work personally. You care, work is time away from your family and it’s wrapped up with how we identify ourselves.
Getting upset is normal because we’re all human.But getting upset in front of an audience can be a risk.
Don’t worry. There ARE ways to control emotions, and this can be crucial in your career progression.
Point 1: Check your language.
This isn’t about avoiding a swearing tirade at colleagues, though that would be memorable for the whole office. It’s about the language we use to frame our challenges. While our colleagues can have a large impact on our emotions, they don’t technically make you cry.
Before you react, check you’re not laying more of the blame at their feet than they deserve. I get it, we all work with idiots at times, but sometimes a comment is not offensive on it’s own, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
A camel that may also be carrying your feelings of being underappreciated, overwhelmed or misunderstood. No good will come of ruminating in language like ‘Nothing ever works out for me” or “They never listen.’ or ‘Everyone in this office is two-faced’. No one in this office likes me’.
There are always exceptions of when you did get ideas through and people did listen.
Think about changing your perspective.. Even slightly to:
“This sucks, but I’ll be better prepared next time.’
This does two things: It puts it into perspective plus it forces you to think what you would do differently in the run up to the next meeting to avoid the heartbreak again.
Remember, speak to yourself how you would speak to others.
I’m going to say that again…. speak to yourself how you would speak to others.
This can really make a difference.
Point 2: Sometimes, if all else fails and you have to excuse yourself from the situation, just do it. In some cases, leaving the room to take a few deeps breaths, cool down and take a drink of water can be all that you need to re-focus on the task at hand. It sends a message to your boss that you care deeply about the work, and that you aren’t just there filling time or making a bit of pin money for the family. In the moments or even hours you are away from the situation, remind yourself, this situation is unlikely to literally kill you, and is likely to be a story you tell others about and even roll your eyes over in years to come. As they say; ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Think about it, how many times have you felt that dreaded lump at the back of your throat, where all you want to do is to drop everything and give up?
3. OK so my secret about the power of a single sentence.
A ‘hedge’ can be a great tool for reducing backlash or judgement against you.
As I talk about in Love Your C-Word, research shows 'hedges', not the kind you grow in your garden, but the type that can soften a statement, can reduce the chances of reprisals when you do show emotions like anger.
Although feelings like anger can be overwhelming at the time, these meetings or interactions are fleeting and are an opportunity for you to prove that you are stronger than you seem.
Let me explain.
While giving a disagreeable opinion, researchers encouraged people to describe the intention of their feedback. Participants were merely asked to say:
“I see this as a matter of honesty and integrity, so it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand”.
Remarkably, this single hedge alone reduced the backlash against the speaker, particularly for women, by 20%.
This single statement can benefit everyone. So next time you share an unpopular opinion, explain your intent before you give your point of view. You’re likely to get less backlash, which in turn helps to keep all the emotions in check.
This shows your boss that you care deeply about the issues at hand, and that you can handle anything that’s thrown at you.
So, now you know how to control emotions at work. What now?
If you’re watching this, your career is obviously important to you. So are you currently thinking about that next promotion? Well you should be. Don’t wait until you’ve outgrown your current role.. Start thinking about what moves you can make NOW.
That’s why I’m offering you a copy of my completely FREE guide: How to get a promotion in 8 steps.
It is full of all my best advice - and has helped many clients move on to bigger and better things. Just click the link below and fill out your details.
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Please visit my playlist on ‘Common Workplace Challenges’ - I promise it’s packed with tips on how to navigate all the other little challenges we face at work.
Suzanne Doyle-Morris, Author, Speaker & Gender Balance Expert for 25+ years.
Hear what I told BBC Radio about what to do about the worsening gender pay gap data