Choose how you react to frustration.
Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. – Viktor Frankl, 'Man's Search for Meaning'
We've all been in one of 'those' situations before. You know... when your favorite project is cancelled after weeks of hard work; when a customer snaps at you unfairly; when your best friend (and co-worker) is laid off suddenly; or your boss assigns you more work when you're already overloaded.
In your personal life, your reaction to stressful situations like these might be to start shouting, or to go hide in a corner and feel sorry for yourself for a while. But at work, these types of behavior could seriously harm your professional reputation, as well as your productivity.
Stressful situations are all too common in a workplace that's facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and department changes. It may become harder and harder to manage your emotions under these circumstances, but it's even more important for you to do so. After all, if management is forced into making more layoffs, they may choose to keep those who can handle their emotions, and work well under pressure. As the above quote shows, no matter what the situation is, you're always free to choose how you react to it.
So, how can you become better at handling your emotions, and 'choosing' your reactions to bad situations? In this article, we look at the most common negative emotions experienced in the workplace – and how you can manage them productively.
Why are we focusing only on negative emotions? Well, most people don't need strategies for managing their positive emotions. After all, feelings of joy, excitement, compassion, or optimism usually don't affect others in a negative way. As long as you share positive emotions constructively and professionally, they're great to have in the workplace!
In 1997, Bond University professor of management Cynthia Fisher conducted a study called 'Emotions at Work: What Do People Feel, and How Should We Measure It?'
According to Fisher's research, the most common negative emotions experienced in the workplace are as follows:
Below are different strategies you can use to help you deal with each of these negative emotions.
Frustration usually occurs when you feel stuck or trapped, or unable to move forward in some way. It could be caused by a colleague blocking your favorite project, a boss who is too disorganized to get to your meeting on time, or simply being on hold on the phone for a long time.
Whatever the reason, it's important to deal with feelings of frustration quickly, because they can easily lead to more negative emotions, such as anger.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with frustration:
With all the fear and anxiety that comes with increasing numbers of layoffs, it's no wonder that many people worry about their jobs. But this worry can easily get out of control, if you allow it, and this can impact not only your mental health, but also your productivity, and your willingness to take risks at work.
Try these tips to deal with worrying:
When you're worried and nervous about something, it can dent your self-confidence. Read our article on Building Self-Confidence to make sure this doesn't happen. Also, don't let your worries get in the way of being appropriately assertive .
Out-of-control anger is perhaps the most destructive emotion that people experience in the workplace. It's also the emotion that most of us don't handle very well. If you have trouble managing your temper at work, then learning to control it is one of the best things you can do if you want to keep your job.
Try these suggestions to control your anger:
We've probably all had to work with someone we don't like. But it's important to be professional, no matter what.
Here are some ideas for working with people you dislike:
Dealing with disappointment or unhappiness at work can be difficult. Of all the emotions you might feel at work, these are the most likely to impact your productivity. If you've just suffered a major disappointment, your energy will probably be low, you might be afraid to take another risk, and all of that may hold you back from achieving.
Here are some proactive steps you can take to cope with disappointment and unhappiness:
Adjust your goal – If you're disappointed that you didn't reach a goal, that doesn't mean the goal is no longer reachable. Keep the goal, but make a small change – for example, delay the deadline.
Our Back On Track article provides practical steps for recovering from a major career setback.
We all have to deal with negative emotions at work sometimes, and learning how to cope with these feelings is now more important than ever. After all, negative emotions can spread, and no one wants to be around a person who adds negativity to a group.
Know what causes your negative emotions, and which types of feelings you face most often. When those emotions begin to appear, immediately start your strategy to interrupt the cycle. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pull yourself away from negative thinking.
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