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Dealing with Negative Emotions in the Workplace

Updated: May 14, 2023

Be yourself at work.

Oh, how I would love to be myself at work. It is easier said than done considering humans are emotional beings and we spend most part of our day at work where we have to deal with people we don't like, people who give us a hard time when it comes to meeting deadlines, people who just don't listen no matter how many different ways we approach them.

So how can I be myself at work when my principles clash with those of my colleagues on a regular basis and all I can do is try to control myself and my thoughts because we have workplace rules to upload and workplace culture and environment to nurture?

The first thing I would like to tell you here is that it is completely normal and natural to feel anxious, frustrated, angry, or scared depending upon the situation you're dealing with at work.

Second, the only way to handle such situations while still being your true self at work is to practice managing your emotions.

It will not only help you in your professional life but will also benefit you in your personal life.

Let's dive right in!

Image shows two masks, one happy and one sad, to depict the variety of emotions we feel at work. The article is about dealing with negative emotions in the workplace.

Acknowledge and Accept

The first step is to acknowledge your emotions, what you are feeling, and why you are feeling it. Whether it is fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, whatever you are feeling, consider it normal because you are a human being, and the situations and people surrounding you can have an impact on your work and thoughts. Once you have accepted that fact, it becomes easier to put things into perspective.

Know Your Triggers

When you are in a situation that upset you and you accept that emotion, instead of immediately reacting, write down the underlying reason that made you feel upset. It's important to know your triggers in advance to avoid immediately reacting or overreacting to a situation.

Was it an email that put you in a bad mood? Was it the tone of the person you were communicating with? Was your idea shot down in a meeting in front of your colleagues? Understand the situation and jot down what triggered that negative emotion in you.

The better you know your triggers, the easier it will be to counter your negative emotions.

Talk About It if a Situation Disturbs Your Sleep

Sometimes, even when you don't react to a situation, it keeps bugging you the whole day. You know you handled it the right way but you still feel like speaking about it or raising your concern. In case of such scenarios, sleep on it. Give yourself a day before making the final decision.

If you slept on it and still feel the same way about it the next day then reach out to your mentor, whether at work or outside, and discuss the situation with them and how it affects you.

Talking to a mentor will provide relief as well as a way forward for you to handle similar situations better the next time.

Keep Your Personal and Professional Life Separate

Never take your work worries to your home. For your own peace of mind and mental well-being, leave work at work. If you struggle with this and find yourself thinking about work even when you are at home, talk to your siblings, wife, kids, parents about how their day was, have family conversations at the dinner table, read a book, find something that calms you and takes your mind off of work.

As you practice this on a daily basis, it will become a habit and will help you with managing your negative emotions and leaving them at work.

Practice a Calming Ritual

Your teammate promised to deliver a project presentation to you before the deadline, the deadline came and went, still no sign of the promised presentation. You are furious and want to reprimand your teammate for not keeping his word and missing the deadline.

Hold it right there, it's not a good idea.

When faced with such situations, instead of reacting instantly, prepare a calming ritual for yourself and practice it. Whether it's taking a deep breath, taking a quick coffee break, or changing the topic or subject to another matter, taking a walk, whichever ritual works for you, practice it.

Once you have calmed down and cleared your mind, get back to the topic and handle it professionally.

Never write an email when you are angry, there is no doubt you will regret it later.

Know When to Quit

If you have tried and tested every method in the book and still feel like nothing is changing, maybe it's time for you to move on. The reason most of us are unhappy, depressed, sad, and hate our jobs is that we don't know when to quit.

Quitting is often associated with failure when the fact is it is important to know when to quit and move on to the next great opportunity. When one door closes another opens up, so don't feel discouraged and don't waste your precious life at a 9-5 job that you hate.

When you stop enjoying and loving the work you do, that is your signal to move on to the next thing.

Every Day is a New Day!

Last but not least, never forget that every day is a new day. With a new day, comes a new challenge. So keep your mind focused on the present and take it one step at a time, don't overwhelm yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Create rituals and do the work you love, it is very much possible.

Happy growing!

- The Other Working Woman

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