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Managing emotions at work

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Emotions are the affective conditions we experience when confronted by life situations that are induced by multiple factors, from our early experiences to past frustrations, ways of thinking, relationship patterns, etc.

These are usually accompanied by physiological changes that act to adapt our organism to our surroundings.  Furthermore, in many cases, they determine our behaviour and the way to deal with the problems.

We spend much of our time in the work place with different types of people, and this is a natural environment for our emotions to be revealed. Anger, satisfaction, enthusiasm, frustration, uncertainty, blame and joy are frequent emotions in these surroundings.  An increasing number of studies show the high impact that the employees’ emotional condition can have on the organization’s performance and wellbeing.

Emotions must be properly addressed so as to prevent  communication leading to conflicts and interpersonal relationship deterioration that affect performance, productivity and a sense of wellbeing in the organization.

The first step is to identify our emotions

Emotions must first be acknowledged and accepted in order to be properly managed.  This is very different from suppression or elimination; it implies understanding, regulating and channeling situations for our benefit and that of the organization.  Therefore, instead of thinking that emotions are an obstacle, you must acknowledge their significance for you.

The first step to managing emotions is self-observation and identifying whether you are irritated, sad, tired, happy, or quiet.  Relate your emotions to situations where their presence has been obvious, taking into account that a situation itself is neither good nor bad - it is often your interpretation and assessment that initiate the relevant emotion, i.e., rage, sadness, joy, etc.

You can identify the physical symptoms that accompany different emotions (tachycardia, sweating, agitation, impaired breathing, and your reaction (shouting, crying, laughing, feeling blocked), together with positive or negative consequences of your behaviour (conflict)

What can we do to avoid emotional domination?

There are several ways to avoid intense emotions from bursting and leading us to do things that we might regret, including the following:

  • Give yourself time.  Emotions rise to a maximum point and then the intensity drops.
  • Speak to someone outside the conflict to express how you feel emotionally.
  • Do things that help you to reduce physiological stimulation, which will promote a feeling of tranquil wellbeing. For example, deep breathing exercise, relaxation, physical exercise, yoga, etc.
  • “Time out”: this means telling another person that you are getting angry or that you feel sad and that you would prefer to speak at another time.
  • Temporarily distract yourself with other things and return to the problem or situation when you have calmed down.
  • Analyze the thoughts or assessments about the situations and reflect on whether or not they relate to reality and whether they help or harm you.
  • Avoid making decisions or taking impulsive actions when you are emotionally intense.

If you find that emotions are starting to affect your work, that it is difficult to concentrate, that you are not motivated, are irritable, or are making more mistakes, you can call the EAP.  Their psychologists can help you to properly manage your emotions and obtain a more adaptive attitude towards the obstacles that arise at work.



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