Maintaining emotional composure in the workplace is not only widely regarded as appropriate behavior, but is also expected in the professional setting. Like most expected behaviors, there are ramifications if inappropriate emotional outbursts occur. When emotions rise, ideally, one would keep their composure, not showing emotional strain or distress until an appropriate time presents itself.
Some negative emotions can present themselves when being at work. Negative emotions are considered anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt. We tend to default to putting our attention on ‘anger' in the workplace, simply because serious cases make the news. However, any and all of the five basic negative emotions can have a bad impact the office environment. If you have trouble keeping your cool, follow this simple helpful advice.
- know the difference between inappropriate and appropriate
- take yourself away from the trigger
- remember that emotions pass
- a simple exercise
- communicate your needs to others
- act like nothing has happened
- bad mouth others for your bad behavior
- wait to fix what you have damaged
- be afraid to apologize to those you have affected
- ignore the significance of your behavior
There are two kinds of emotional responses. Emotions are natural and healthy neurochemical reactions to events. Most times, inappropriate emotional responses become apparent to you and others. If you can’t feel the difference, pay attention to how others are reacting. If you are acting inappropriately, you will notice that other people are negatively surprised or somehow affected by your reactions.
Triggers are usually a person or event that you believe is causing your emotional response. This emotional upset is your signal to leave the room and compose yourself. To help compose yourself during this emotional upset, remove yourself from the stimulus and find a peaceful place to allow your emotions to get balanced. When you return to your office and emotions rise, keep your composure. Tap a pen, snap a rubber band, or squeeze a small hand ball to release negative energy.
If you are emotionally healthy, emotions are fleeting like clouds passing through the sky. They come and they go. They occur due to floods of neurochemicals being released and re-absorbed within the brain. As time passes, so does the typical emotion. Whenever you are starting to feel heated, give yourself some time away to let the emotions pass by.
This exercise is quick, easy to do, and extremely effective after a negative emotional event. It helps to be able to recognize the situation from your own eyes (associated) and also through the eyes of the other person involved (disassociated).
- Close your eyes and imagine the event. During this event, you are looking through your own eyes (associated). Recognize and feel the emotions that you were feeling.
- Imagine yourself floating into the other person, your trigger, and imagine the event occurring while looking through their eyes (disassociated). Recognize and feel the emotions that your trigger was feeling.
- Imagine yourself floating in the air above the two of you, putting yourself in the third person position, looking down on the event (disassociated) imagining the event happen. Feel the emotions that both you and your trigger is feeling.
What commonly occurs during this exercise is an intense awakening of perspective. During step one, you will feel that your position and reaction was reasonable. During step two, the other person’s perspective or misunderstanding becomes reasonable. During step three, the truth of the event is experienced but without any emotional attachment. The emotion is released from the event, therefore helping to make the disruptive neurochemicals subside.
By successfully repeating this exercise at work and at home (this works for being in heavy traffic too) you can train yourself to feel your emotions right out of your day and out of your office!
Most times, if someone is aware that you have a sensitivity to an issue, either personal or societal, they are willing to temper their behavior around your need. We often times shut down when we are distressed so the trigger is never given an opportunity to be helpful. The best way to help yourself is to allow others to know what is bothering you and how they might be able to help.
After an emotional outburst or any inappropriate behavior has occurred, you must address the issue verbally with those affected. There isn’t anything scarier to those around you than silence. Your coworkers will fear you and the workplace will suffer. Silence must be avoided once you have calmed down.
It’s best to take responsibility for your actions. No one is to blame for your actions. There are no excuses. Blaming others for your inappropriate actions will just lead to animosity in the office. People want to do the right thing and if they have a problem with your negative behavior, it is time for you to address your problem.
If you damaged property during your upset, you must take immediate steps to fix what you have damaged. If you have hurt someone during your outrage, you must reach out for professional help immediately. Your path of destruction is yours to fix and you must take responsibility sooner than later.
Apologizing for inappropriate behavior in the workplace, works! If you don’t address the issue, it appears to others as a problem. It either appears that you don’t notice, don’t care how you are perceived by others, or don’t care about others in general. None of these options are good.
People in the workplace form a very primal pack, all working toward a common goal. When a pack member goes ‘emotionally rogue’ it makes the other members of the pack nervous. When the pack is nervous, they become distrusting and distant. The pack will continue to move toward the common goal, however, they may leave you behind. On the other hand, when you apologize, you are openly telling the pack that you recognize your inappropriate actions. They will forgive this problem as long as it does not become a pack problem. Everyone behaves inappropriately at some point, which bonds you to the others, as long as they believe you will be appropriate next time and time again.
We are all doing the best we can both at home and at the office. When pressures mount the tendency is to release emotions on those who will be most affected. The problem with negative emotions in the workplace is the impact it has on your employer and employees. Respect is lost and potentially your job. There is a heightened sensitivity to workplace behavior and enrollment in anger management courses are soaring. Stress is high and tolerance is low. Do yourself and those around you a favor by keeping your emotions balanced.