Emotions are an inevitable part of our everyday lives. It doesn’t matter how good of a role model you are or how great a corporate culture you create, situations will always arise that raise emotional stress through the roof.
Australian’s spend a big part of their lives at work. In Western Australia, the average full-time worker spends 41.1 hours a week in the office. That’s a lot of time spent in one place with the same group of people! Between client frustrations, disagreements with colleagues and project cancellations after weeks of hard work, it’s no wonder our emotions can get overloaded.
All of us handle stressful situations differently, whether personal or in the workplace. Emotions are not consciously controlled. Because they’re directed by the limbic system part of our brains, they’re primitive after evolving very early on. This is why emotional responses are straightforward and powerful. Some of us will shout, whilst others will run away or want to cry. These responses aren’t necessarily linked to the current situation either. But understanding this connection to our ingrained memories is the first step to overcoming emotional reactions.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, everyone in the workplace can benefit from learning how to control their emotions. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Accept and Acknowledge
Before emotional reactions to stressful workplace situations can be handled, they need to be accepted and recognised. People want their feelings to be acknowledged. It’s as simple as telling your colleague or employee that you understand they’re feeling stressed and want to help them do something about it.
Accepting your emotional actions encourages you to assess the reason for the response. Whether it be anger, frustration/irritation, worry/nervousness or unhappiness, it’s important to understand where these negative emotions have stemmed from. Many negative reactions in the workplace are a result of unfilled promises, criticism or highly-stressful situations.
2. Take Action
As a business owner, you’re required to take action when a staff member is experiencing negative emotions at work. As an employee, it’s up to you to express them by talking to a trusted colleague or manager. Regardless of which one you are, it’s vital to respond with compassion and empathy when someone turns to you. Studies have shown that when managers offer support, the tension in the office subsides to achieve better outcomes.
Positive courses of action can include regular meetings to discuss problem clients and workplace issues, implementing stress management strategies like breathing regulation and walking away, and being open to what’s happening in the situation around you. Mindfulness can be a very effective coping mechanism to eliminate negative emotions.
3. Invest in Emotional Intelligence Training
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a process of understanding the emotions of yourself and others under pressure, and knowing how to positively influence them. Through emotionally intelligence training, you learn how to manage your own emotions and others’ during these high-pressure situations.
Ask management to provide training to learn positive techniques to manage relationships more effectively. As a manager, business owner or employee, EQ training is vital in understanding how reactions affect those around you. It’s proven that 90% of top performers in the workplace are skilled at managing their emotions in pressurised situations. They also stay positive and disconnect to keep things in check. Through EQ training, the skills needed to manage emotions are developed. EQ training is also a fantastic tool for hiring new staff, staff retention and self-control and awareness.
4. Power in Positivity
There is great power in positivity. It doesn’t mean to say you disregard the negative emotions, but offering a positive outlook adds a new perspective to the picture. Positively substitute the negative situation by saying something like, “I know you’re under a lot of stress. I understand you feel this way because you’re a great employee and want to do the very best job you can”. Statements like these can help to alleviate a negative emotion with a positive one. Thus, turning the situation around before emotions get too heightened.
5. Solutions vs. Blame
When you’re under pressure and feeling defeated, it’s a common to find someone else to blame. Avoiding responsibility is one of the easiest traps to fall in, but this doesn’t contribute to being a leader. Effective leaders use failures as a learning opportunity, and aren’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong. People like this will look for solutions in high-pressure situations, rather than who’s to blame.
Ignoring negative emotions in the workplace is a counterproductive and costly mistake. If you build a workplace of engagement, inclusion and proactiveness, a positive environment is encouraged. And with the right workshops and training, balanced approaches and the ability to mediate through high-stress situations is achieved.