Managing Emotions at the Office

I've taken the Myers-Briggs personality test about a dozen times, and have consistently earned the label Extraverted Intuitive Feeling and Perceiving (EIFP). While there are numerous positive attributes to this personality, one haunts me in nearly all professional and personal endeavors—I'm far too emotional. I think it might be scientifically impossible for me to put my feelings (for myself and others) aside when making any decision whatsoever.

When asked to write a blog about taking emotions out of the workplace, I instantly thought my husband would be a much better writer for this topic. He's an engineer with a Myers-Briggs personality type of Introverted Sensing Thinking and Judging (ISTJ). He can look at a problem and immediately see the solution, taking no time to be sentimental. I’m sure there are days he wishes I would get an assignment on how to take emotions out of marriage.

According to Anne Kreamer, author of the book, “It’s Always Personal,” hoping to completely remove emotional reactions from the office is unrealistic and potentially unhealthy. Instead, Kreamer says it's much more productive to prepare for them. She suggests that managers look for what could trigger inappropriate behavior and work with employees to develop professional solutions and tools for managing unprofessional moments.

“If you understand what is causing employees to react to situations emotionally, you’re in a much better position to prevent an outburst by not letting things get to that point,” Kreamer says in a post on Monster.com.

Jodi Glickman, communications expert and founder of Great on the Job, says managers should step in and help employees gain composure rather than pretending nothing is happening.

“If the person looks like they’re going to lose it, suggest that they take a break to go get some air, take a walk and clear their head,” she says. “Allow them to get some distance from the situation to cool off. Then, ask to continue the discussion when the sting has dissipated.”

Glickman says managers should help themselves and their employees look for triggers.

“If you can be self-aware enough to know the things that put you in that vulnerable state, you can be in a better place to manage it,” she said.

In an article in "U.S. News and World Report," Katherine Walker, founder of Lifetime Behavioral Health, discussed suitable ways of dealing with emotions at work.
 

When dealing with anxiety, for example, Walker says employees should focus on the task at hand rather than allowing their mind to think about the future and what their boss or coworker might think. Walker suggests deep breathing and muscle relaxation to encourage mindfulness and to reduce worry and unease.

Failure at work is also a major mental battleground, Walker says. She says employees should gain perspective after experiencing failure or disappointment, viewing it as a growth opportunity, rather than getting caught up in discouragement.

“Most of the time, failure feels bigger than it really is,” she says. “Remember that failure is part of life—that’s how we learn.”

While it might be acceptable to express all your feelings at work, it's important to recognize your experiences—not ignore and suppress them. Allow yourself to be frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, happy and excited. Rather than going to a negative place, use your emotions to help you learn from successes and failures and push you to improve your performance at work. 

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