Workplace emotions: Provide outlets for your colleagues and yourself

So many of today’s employees are asked to do so much more in less time and with fewer resources. Add family and societal pressures, and safety valves are vital. Heed this advice.

Emotions are part of the human condition—which means they play a role in the workplace.

We deal with them in every interaction, every single day. From work to home to social events, life and family, our emotions range depending on many factors. In the workplace, when expectations are high and resources are low, emotional outbursts can seem like the norm rather than the exception.

If you are in a leadership position, you have the added pressure to set the tone for others to follow. This is not always easy when managing a team.

Aiming for an emotion-free business environment, though perhaps a nice thought, is unrealistic. Too many unforeseen events make it impossible to work in an emotionally constrained environment. The secret to success is learning how to manage those emotions, whether you are in an entry-level position or the CEO.

Here’s a bag of goods to help you navigate the sometimes-messy world of alpha personalities, divas and leaders in the making, to come out victorious.

  • The power of honesty. No one likes to work with Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. If you’re candid about your struggles, your team will kick in extra loyalty and trust, because they can relate to you. It might make them more mindful about creating chaos themselves. Being honest doesn’t mean you have to divulge every personal detail, but openness about certain things will strengthen team bonds. A co-worker might say, “I often feel that way,” or, “Let me tell you how I deal with…” Personal relationships strengthen, leading to more professional success.
  • Heading off Armageddon. As a leader, go deeper and look for what is triggering an employee’s emotional behavior. This positions you to deal with issues at their root level and provides insight into “danger zones” to avoid. You will be in a much better position to prevent an outburst by avoiding the boiling point. Don’t pretend chaos isn’t happening. Help whoever is having a meltdown regain their equilibrium. Deal with workplace emotions swiftly, but without making the other person feel attacked or threatened. Be clear about what is being criticized, and focus on the outcome, not on resolving the issue.
  • The link between gender and crying. Women are six times more likely than men to cry at work. Tears are the workplace equivalent of a “check engine” sign. It could mean we are overworked, sick, we angry or frustrated. Rather than seeing tears as weakness, recognize the underlying need to be addressed. By the way, men experience emotions, too; they just have different ways of expressing and dealing with them.
  • Managing your own emotions at work. If you are a leader feeling overwhelmed, take a well-deserved breather. No need to explain. Simply say, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes.” Taking time to focus on your own mental health and well-being is vital for professional success. Neglecting your emotions will have adverse effects. Not only will this help you tremendously, but as a leader you are setting an important example for your employees: It’s OK to take care of yourself.

Angela Civitella is a business leadership coach and founder of the firm INTINDE.

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