EQ WORKOUT #61 How to Manage Emotions in the Workplace


Let’s be honest, emotions can make things a bit chaotic. And we don’t need more chaos in our lives! Instead, we want to learn how to identify and manage our emotions so we can move from chaos to calm.

Even the most analytical, logical scientist cannot remove emotions from the workplace. We are human beings, emotional beings—it’s going to come up! So instead of trying to ignore or get rid of our emotions, we want to learn to identify them

VUCA: From War to Work

VUCA: From War to Work

At the end of WW2, an acronym was created to describe the realities of the post-war world. VUCA was meant to describe the geopolitical climate and what the world would be like. Here’s what it means:

  • Volatility: Things can change in an instant.
  • Uncertainty: It’s hard to plan because the future is uncertain.
  • Complexity: There will be increasing complexity in the future.
  • Ambiguity: What we thought was certain, may not be.

This describes the geopolitical world, but it also describes our workplaces! We live in ever-changing times with serious challenges every day. With all this VUCA going on, we need to figure out how to manage our emotions.

Emotions in the Workplace

Emotions in the Workplace

Next, we all have emotions, but what we experience day-to-day might look different. Here are some of the most common motions in the workplace:

  • Anger: This might be people screaming at each other or a quieter anger.
  • Frustration: Sometimes goals or boundaries change, prompting a frustrated response: why do I even try?
  • Fear: With constant change, nothing can be taken for granted. Uncertainty can create fear and anxiety.
  • Sadness: Some people feel sad because they are “stuck” at work, unable to move forward.
  • Dislike: Personalities can clash and make it a challenging environment to be in.

You can probably relate to some, if not all, of these emotions. They can dramatically impact us both at work and in our personal lives. If left unchecked, these emotions can be a negative force dragging us down in life.

How to Manage Emotions in the Workplace

How to Manage Emotions in the Workplace

To move from chaos to calm in the workplace, it’s essential to manage your emotions. It’s not an easy thing to do, but the steps are simple.

Here are five tips on how to manage emotions in the workplace:

  • Label your emotions while they’re happening. This is self-awareness, and it’s the starting point to understanding and managing our emotions. Once we label our emotions, we can manage it in the moment. Take a few moments during the day to especially think about what you are thinking and feeling.
  • Revisit your triggers. Our VUCA world provides opportunities for your emotions to be triggered throughout the day. Try to nail down what exactly triggers you. What made you angry? What happened to make you feel sad? Keep a journal or some way to record what your triggers are and why it happened.
  • Monitor your sleeping and eating habits. Too many people work chronically deprived of sleep. It’s not a benign habit—it dramatically impacts the intensity of your emotions and how you are able to react and respond in the moment. Also, food is equally important: fuel your body with healthy, nourishing food and you will be better able to manage emotions and challenging situations.
  • Have a go-to exercise. What would you do if you just had 10 seconds to manage your emotions? How about 5 minutes? 30 minutes? It could be taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, or talking to a loved one on the phone.
  • Do an emotional detox. Your transition between home and work each day. Are you bringing challenging situations from work back to your home? And, take time during your commute to become aware of what you’re feeling, compartmentalize it, and make sure that negative emotions don’t leak into a new space.

Emotions aren’t a four-letter word! They’re part of our human experience. So, when they come up in the workplace, take healthy steps to identify and manage them. It’ll benefit both you and those around you!

For this week’s EQ workout choose one of the five tips from the list above and take some time to explore it in the coming days. I would love to know any of your insights or discoveries.

You may also like this YouTube video I recently recorded which explores this topic in more depth.