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Handling Emotions in the Workplace

EmotionsIf you’re like me, and I think you are, you’ve faced your unfair share of frustrating circumstances on the job. Maybe you worked really hard for weeks on a creative project, just to have it shot down in the end. Maybe your boss blamed you for something they did or maybe you got fired for something that wasn’t even your fault. Either way, the point is, none of us are immune to the woes of the workplace. So, how do we deal with that? How do we handle ourselves in the face of unexpected emotional turmoil?

Stop, Breathe and Process

When that moment of offense comes, the worst thing we can do is verbalize what our emotions are telling us. The best thing we can do is give ourselves a chance to respond instead of react. Stop, take a breath and process how you feel. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel offended?”. This sounds impossible to do in the moment but you would be surprised at how much your brain can accomplish in a split second. Keep in mind that people don’t generally intend to be offensive. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t Use Attacking Phrases

If you feel that the offensive action should be addressed, bring it up in the context of how it made you feel instead of pointing the finger at the person or the action. When we try to address conflict with phrases like “you did this”, or “you always”, it feels like an attack and often leaves us with more tension than we started with. Here is an example of a correct and incorrect approach to addressing an offense:

“Ugh, Hank! My department works just as hard as yours! You always make everyone feel like crap. I QUIT!” (Incorrect)

“Hank, when you made that comment about my department, it made me feel like my hard work didn’t matter. I know you were just trying to be honest, and I appreciate that, but your comment made me feel a bit defeated. Let’s talk about how our departments can work more efficiently together.” (Correct)

When you remove the attacking phrases you stop the war before it begins. Chances are the offense was unintentional and treating it as such will prevent furthering the conflict.

Consider Your Reputation

Before you respond to a conflict, review what you plan to say and consider if that response could damage your reputation. If your response is going to potentially paint you in a negative light, reconsider your words. Also, try to recall what you look like when you’re angry. More than likely, you’re not looking your best when you are yelling with an angry red face. Wait until you cool before before you attempt to resolve a conflict. If it takes you a few days, so be it. You don’t want to ruin your reputation because you couldn’t control yourself.

We would love to hear from you! How have you successfully handled an offense on the job?

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