Negative Emotions in the Workplace

One of the best things about being human is the range of emotions we experience. Joy, excitement, curiosity, and appreciation give us wonderful highs visible to those around us. Many consider these good emotions. Some consider feelings like anger, fear, and sadness to be bad emotions and avoid them at all cost. However, emotions shouldn’t be assigned good and bad judgments. Emotions simply are. It’s how you react to them that enhances or detracts from your life.

This is especially important at work when you can’t let your emotions get the best of you even though it is often impossible to avoid uncomfortable emotions. The best way to handle these uncomfortable emotions when you’re at the office is to deal with them in a way that allows you to remain open and learn something.

For example, if you’re afraid, it can be very easy to ignore the situation scaring you until it becomes an even larger problem. Jolt yourself into action by deciding if the thing you’re afraid of is likely to happen. If it is, clear your head with a little exercise and write down a plan to help you deal with the situation.

Feelings of rejection or inadequacy are common in the office when you’re trying to work with a team or constantly comparing yourself to your colleagues. These feelings are very ego-based, and it is often helpful to objectively look at a situation or decide how you measure up to your colleagues. If you’ve objectively assessed the situation and decided that you were rejected by a teammate, have a frank conversation with him to figure out why. If you decide that your skills don’t measure up to those of others on your team, educate yourself until they do.

In today’s fast-paced business world, companies are stretched thin and employees are often asked to do the jobs of two people. The result? Lots of stress. And stress can create a worry that makes accomplishing anything at all difficult. Instead, view stress as a signal that you have to prioritize. Make a list of your tasks and decide which are the most important ones. Finish those first.

There is no such thing as a bad emotion as long as you cope with it well. If you learn something and deal with your feelings in a productive way, your workplace satisfaction will improve and those feelings will likely extend into other aspects of your life.

Thanks to Geoffrey James for inspiring me with his article, “How to Handle Negative Emotions at Work.”