7 Actionable Tips to Manage Emotions in the Workplace

Managing emotions at the workplace can be a nightmare for leaders. 

When problems arise and tensions are at an all-time high, emotional outbursts cannot be avoided.

It is essential that leaders and managers be aware of and able to deal with different emotions and the underlying reasons behind them. By understanding and acknowledging the role emotions play in the workplace, you can create a positive environment for your team and help them to excel at what they do.

Here are some of the fundamental ways emotions can impact an organization.

How emotions can impact the workplace

  1. A happy work environment sparks engagement

When people feel happy and enjoy what they do, it brings out the best in them. They will feel inspired to be creative, connect, and help build each other up. 

  1. Too much stress impairs brain power

A healthy amount of stress can be a source of motivation. Too much stress, however, can lead to issues with attention, memory, and impulse control—lowering your employees’ overall productivity and performance. 

  1. A sense of belonging inspires commitment and loyalty

Your employees will have a sense of belonging when they feel as though they are being valued, appreciated, and that their work contributes to a greater purpose. They will be motivated to do their best while embodying your company’s values and culture in their daily lives. 

  1. Emotional exhaustion leads to burnout

If you are unable to manage your team’s stress level and keep up their morale for a prolonged period of time, this can lead to burnout. This is especially true if your team is unable to find purpose in what they do, ultimately feeling undervalued. 

  1. Feeling safe can drive ideation and innovation

When your team feels safe to experiment and express themselves without the fear of being reprimanded for mistakes, they will be more likely to come up with new ideas. When those ideas are met with support and encouragement, they will be more likely to take risks and innovate better products and initiatives. Even if they fail, they will learn from their experience and come out stronger than they were before. 

Positive emotions in the workplace

These positive emotions are common in a healthy and productive workplace. Can you say that these are common in your organization?

  • Excitement – A feeling of mental stimulation in relation to a person’s role or goals within a company.
  • Feeling valued – This feeling emerges when a person’s positive traits and hard work are properly recognized and appreciated.
  • Confidence – A sense of personal empowerment and courage within a role. 
  • Flow – A profound sense of absorption in a task that fully engages a person’s brain.
  • Camaraderie – A feeling of trust, collaboration, and friendship between colleagues.
  • Pride – A great feeling about a person’s contribution and skills within a company.

Negative emotions in the workplace

Having negative emotions at work is inevitable. However, a big amount of these emotions can negatively impact the psychological health of your team. 

Here are the most common negative emotions in the workplace:

  • Burnout – An extreme emotional fatigue caused by unrelenting stress in the workplace.
  • Pessimism – A negative outlook on different aspects of the work, causing the person to have a tendency to focus on negative information.
  • Anxiety – This emotion causes a person to feel unsafe either emotionally or physically. Anxiety at work can be about meeting expectations, social aspects of the workplace, or even due to the tasks at hand.
  • Depression – Work-related depression is often triggered by an accumulation of stress that seems unsurpassable, creating feelings of hopelessness and apathy.
  • Anger – Workplace anger can result from stress, irritation, or feelings of injustice.
  • Isolation – Isolation occurs when a person feels undervalued, underappreciated, or ignored.

Regardless of how well you handle your own emotions, it is much more difficult to control other people’s emotions. 

So, what are the best ways to handle employees with the tendency to be more emotional? 

1. Reflect first, react second

Instead of impulsively reacting to a new situation, it is best if you wait for a moment to reflect on what just happened. By taking a few seconds to halt and ponder, you can calm yourself down and you will be more likely to generate a better response.

2. Focus on what you can control

When you are faced with a stressful or emotional situation, try to identify what you can and cannot control. Accept that you cannot undo something that has already been done. What you can do is control your response, and to a certain degree, you can also control what happens next. 

3. Prioritize your points

Many people often stress themselves out over trivial matters and lose sight of what is truly important for them to address. So, take a few moments to breathe and consider what is the most important point you need to discuss, in order to come up with an action plan. 

4. Allow for mistakes

You need to accept that nobody is perfect. Mistakes are unavoidable, and while they should not just be accepted, they also should not always be cause for reprimand. The occasional error can be calmly corrected through transparent and open communication, which can foster positive emotions.  

However, if errors keep happening, you should set aside time to develop a performance improvement strategy. This strategy ensures that everyone is on the same page and you can work together on how to best support them in improving their performance. 

5. Build a culture of trust

When you have built a strong connection and relationship with your team, they will be more open to discussing sensitive issues with you. Build a culture of trust and open communication. That way, even when discussing hard topics, they will have no doubt that you have their best interests at heart.

6. Listen more than you talk

Oftentimes, employees who experience negative emotions are not searching for solutions—they simply want to express themselves and let go of their emotions. As a leader, you need to know when is the time to provide actual advice to your team. But most importantly, you need to make sure that they feel heard and understood. 

7. Empathize

Additionally, in order to truly understand where your employees are coming from, you need to be able to empathize with their issues. Strive to understand what they are feeling and the reasoning behind their frustrations. Ask them how they are doing and what you can do to make them feel better. 

Related read: 5 Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence in Leaders

Self-regulation and coaching

When it comes to being in a leadership position, the ability to self-regulate your emotions is essential. 

Leaders who can control their emotions and impulses are better at making sound decisions, building strong relationships, and inspiring others. 

Self-regulation is often thought of as something that comes naturally to people. You should not worry too much if you do not possess this trait, as it can be learned and developed over time. 

Here are some things you can do to practice this particular skill:

  • Start with yourself: When you are faced with a challenge, consider approaching it with a calmer and different approach. This will steer you away from any outbursts of emotion. Next, you can find ways for you to manage your stress levels through activities such as meditation and walking.
  • Establish boundaries: By having limits in place, you are then able to effectively manage your time, energy, and resources. Without set boundaries, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Decisions are instead made based on what is best for the team, rather than being swayed by personal feelings. 
  • Understand your triggers: If you are aware of the things that trigger you, you can proactively develop strategies to deal with them. For example, if you know that you tend to lash out when you feel pressured, you can make a point of taking breaks throughout the day to de-stress.

If you find yourself struggling with managing emotions in the workplace, whether they are your own or your team’s—we are here to help. 

Achieve sustainable behavioral change and be a better leader for your team with our world-renowned Stakeholder Centered Coaching® methodology. Learn more about our program details and get in touch with our program advisor today. 


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