Emotion Management Strategies for The Workplace

Jan 22 2024 | Insights
Woman sat next to a cup of coffee in a green silk shirt, outdoors on a bench, writing something down in a notepad whilst looking at her phone.

An employee’s attitudes and emotions in the workplace can play a huge role in the success and performance of a business. After all, a business is only as good as the employees that share its mission. Therefore, leaders that go the extra mile to prioritise employee happiness and empowerment are more likely to achieve success and a thriving work environment.

When people feel stressed or anxious, their performance can be affected, and the way they interact with others within a team can also be disrupted. When individuals feel satisfied and comfortable in their working environment, they’re likely to be motivated, engaged and productive. Which is why the importance of emotion management for managers and leaders should be held highly.

By understanding and, more importantly, acknowledging how emotions can affect a workforce, leaders can more efficiently create a positive and productive working environment, where growth and development can thrive.

The importance of emotion management – why should you care?

As we’ve already mentioned, emotions can fundamentally change how a business operates. For example:

  • Joy and satisfaction foster better employee engagement, greater motivation, a sense of purpose, and as a result higher productivity.

  • A positive workplace also attracts top talent within recruitment, benefiting your workforce in the long run.

  • Positive and enthusiastic emotions at work can also lead to greater innovation and creativity, where employees feel they can express themselves more and come up with new and exciting business ideas and opportunities.

  • A too positive environment at work, also known as toxic positivity, can actually have the opposite effects, leading to employees feeling depleted and not valued.

  • Emotions such as stress and anxiety can reduce productivity, affecting attention, headspace and overall mental wellbeing of employees.

  • Exhaustion and stress can also lead to burnout and reduced morale at work, leading to a lack of motivation or even illness.

  • Other negative feelings or emotions in the workplace, such as not feeling appreciated, feeling controlled or over-disciplined, feeling disinterested or even angry can lead to increased staff turnover rates. They can also affect communication between teams and team members, leading to communication breakdowns and ineffective workflows.

This is why leaders and managers should really care about workplace emotion management, and why emotional intelligence is a big player in effective leadership.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and others around you.

As a leader, being emotionally aware and possessing emotional intelligence is a key skill to ensuring a positive and fruitful working environment, that benefits both the employees and the business as a whole. So that means, being able to help others control their emotions, but also understand how to manage your own.

Emotion management strategies to set in motion as a leader

1. Allow for mistakes

Mistakes anywhere in life are inevitable and are often the best teachers. Avoid harsh punishments or scolding when a mistake is made at work – it’s usually unnecessary and can introduce hostility or other negative feelings.

Instead, allow for them and encourage employees to learn from them. Correct them in an open, supportive and transparent way. Start to build a positive and trusting workplace environment where a culture of learning thrives, and emotions are managed in a calm and supportive manner.

2. Instil a culture of trust

Stressful and anxious emotions tend to thrive in environments that lack trust. Confidence in your colleagues is an essential component of an emotionally intelligent workplace. As a leader, endeavour to share your emotions with your employees and create an understanding that others feel they can share theirs too.

This will also allow others to understand and become accustomed to the emotions of others around them too, building emotional intelligence within your teams.

3. Actively listen

Listen more than you talk. This is a strategy to help and support those around you in managing their own emotions. Be a figure they can come to, open up to, and talk to about their emotions to better understand and manage them.

Personal emotion management strategies at work

Of course, it’s not just leaders who can benefit from being emotionally intelligent and managing emotions in the workplace.

Understanding how your employees can personally prevent unwanted emotions, and educating them on managing this, is going to play a big role in their success at work. So, some general tips to managing emotions include:

1. Compartmentalise

If there’s stress at home, try to practice compartmentalisation. This can help achieve a fresh and positive mindset during work hours.

Equally, if you’ve had a stressful day in the office, leave those negative emotions there. Use your commute home to let things go.

This means your work and life are separate and you can more effectively manage the emotions from both, rather than allowing them to spill over into each other.

2. Practice mental affirmations

Mental affirmations are great when there is low self-esteem and negative emotions in the office. They help to build mental strength and emotional resilience, which means employees can more effectively deal with emotions in the future.

3. Breathing & relaxation

A lot of negative emotions employees will feel in the office are centred around stress, anxiety, worry and frustration. So, practicing breathing techniques to alleviate these feelings, and understanding ways that help you relax are key to effectively managing your emotions.

Try taking 10 deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Or take a break and go for a walk – walking outside for even 10 minutes can be effective at clearing your head and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.

4. Clarification

To avoid unwanted emotions in the workplace, like anger, frustration or panic, try to clarify before you react. Following a conversation or team meeting where you’ve felt emotions bubbling, allowing yourself to fully understand and clarifying any potential miscommunication can be simple solutions to reducing unwanted emotions at work.

5. Understanding your own triggers

Everyone has their own triggers to unwanted emotions. So, understanding these, and being able to identify them is a key emotion management strategy to avoid negative feelings.

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