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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 of
suddenly; or your boss assigns you more work when you're already
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, staf layofs, 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 layofs, 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 afect
others in a negative way. As long as you share positive emotions
constructively and professionally, they're great to have in the

Positive emotions at work
excitement have desirable

such as high achievement and
efect independent of a person's

relationships with others, including greater task activity, persistence

and enhanced cognitive function. Strong positive emotions of
emotionally intelligent people [include] optimism, positive mood, selfefficacy, and emotional resilience to persevere under adverse
circumstances. Optimism rests on the premise that failure is not
inherent in the individual; it may be attributed to circumstances that
may be changed with a refocusing of efort. Those who express
positive emotions in the workplace are better equipped to influence
their coworkers favorably. They are also more likable, and a halo efect
may occur when warm or satisfied employees are rated favorably on
other desirable attributes. It is likely that these people will inspire
cooperation in others to carry out a task. It is said that, employees
experience fewer positive emotions when interacting with their
supervisors as compared with interactions with coworkers and
customers. Specific workers such as service providers are expected to
react to aggressive behaviors directed toward them with nonaggressive
and even courteous behavioralso to engage in what has been termed
emotional labor by demonstrating polite and pleasant manners
regardless of the customers behavior. Being aware whether or not
your showing positive emotions will cause ripple efects in the
workplace. A manager or co-worker who displays positive emotions
consistently is more likely to motivate those around him/her and have
more opportunities within the company. Being able to bring out positive
emotions and aware of how to do this can be an incredibly useful tool in
the workplace. "Positive mood also elicits more exploration and
enjoyment of new ideas and can enhance creativity" (Isen, 2000).A
manager who is able to reward and speak to his employees in a way
that brings out their positive emotions will be much more successful
than one who lacks these skills.

Diference between Feelings and Emotions

Feelings and emotions are two related concepts that are often confused
due to them being similar in nature. Many people use these words
interchangeable and they may not be wrong as in many cases these
words can be used interchangeably. For example: A person could have
happy feelings but this could also be their emotions. Confused how?
Lets look at the definitions below.
The word feeling is derived from the verb to feel and means anything
that can be experienced via touch, smell, see or any other sensory
organ. It then broadened to describe experiences that were not limited
to physical sensations. This meant that it could now also be used to
explain any type of experience that happens beyond physical, i.e. the
feeling of warmth, cold, etc. APA Dictionary of Psychology states that
this word is reserved for the conscious subjective experience of emotion
in psychology. It simply means that the emotions that are being realized
by the individual. Psychotherapy, sympathy and empathy depend on
people realizing and understanding another persons feelings. Feelings
are believed to be a state of consciousness that arises from emotions,
sentiments or desires. Feelings can be short-term or long-term
depending on the type of feeling. For example, feelings of love are longterm, while happiness or sadness can be short-term. Examples of
feelings include excitement, shock, pain (physical), etc.
The word emotion is used as a generic term for subjective, conscious
experience that is characterized primarily by psychophysiological
expressions, biological reactions, and mental states, according to
Wikipedia. It is often associated with mood, temperament, personality,
disposition, and motivation. Many branches of science state that
emotions are often caused by the release of hormones and
neurotransmitters, which then convert this emotion into feelings.
Hormones and neurotransmitters include dopamine, noradrenaline,
serotonin, oxytocin and cortisol. Hence it can be said that all of the
emotions stem from the brain, which then sends for hormones and
neurotransmitters to make the body realize these emotions, which are
then converted into feelings; these feelings are often short-lived.
Emotions are considered to long-lived and are believed to be often the
driving force behind motiviation. Examples of emotions include
afection, lust, hurt, jealousy, etc.



You can develop a

you better manage
SDP for short.

set of skills to help

your emotions when
rough. We call it the
Process technique or

The next time you're feeling strong emotions and you feel "hijacked" by
those emotions, no longer cool and collected try SDP. It's especially
important if you are concerned you might act in ways you'll later regret,
or if you're not sure the best way to act in the situation.
With repeated practice, SDP can become a healthy habit for dealing
with emotionally challenging situations.
STOP - Stop and think before you act!

If you're in a situation where your emotions are building to a point

where you may have trouble maintaining control - stop!

Sometimes when we're feeling a strong emotion we act automatically

(for example lashing out and insulting our partner when we feel hurt by
him), without truly thinking about the consequences or the best way to
approach the situation.

Learn how to identify the signs that you may be getting to this place.
o Make note of the physical feelings and thoughts that are
associated with this emotional place for you. It may be the
tension in your jaw when you start to get really angry. Or maybe
you notice yourself feeling like you want to break up with your
partner when you feel confused about her feelings for you.
o That way, next time you notice these signs, it can be a cue to
start thinking more consciously about these feelings and your
response, and start working through the next steps so you can
efectively manage them.

DROP - Reduce the intensity of your emotions.

When we're feeling extremely strong emotions, it becomes very difficult

for us to think clearly and rationally. Our bodies are in a "fight or flight"
mode at that point (fight our way through the situation or run away),
and neither of these options are very good in most relationship
situations. Before you can begin to think through the situation rationally
you're going to need to calm down. There are a lot of ways that we can
do this:

Go outside - being outdoors

decreases anxiety and increases
mental clarity and focus.

Spend time with a pet - just

significantly reduce the stress
you're feeling.

Engage in a repetitive action like

knitting, painting, or walking - any
repetitive action can help you
focus your attention calmly on the


Think about something that triggers a positive feeling - that could be

the memory of being on your favorite beach, your grandmother's
homemade bread, or that sense of accomplishment you feel after
you've run 3 miles.

Breathe deeply - Concentrating on your abdomen, breathe in through

your nose for a count of 5. Hold it briefly and then let the breathe out
slowly and gently, focusing on the feeling of the air leaving your body.
Repeat for 1-5 minutes.

PROCESS - Think about it.

Identify the specific emotions you are feeling. To manage

emotions efectively you first need to be able to accurately
identify those feelings. For help with this, try the exercise on our
Boost Your Emotional Self-Awareness page. You can also review
a list of emotion words and identify all that you are feeling at a
given point in time.
Sometimes the surface emotions that we're feeling are masking
other deeper, underlying emotions that are more difficult for us to
deal with. So this step might involve some careful thought, in an
environment where you feel safe working through these feelings.
Know how to understand your emotions.
Identify the source of those feelings - Why are you feeling the way
you are? What is the underlying issue that needs to be addressed?
You can increase your emotional self-awareness by "going inside".
Once you know what it is you are feeling, you need to figure out
why. Are you unhappy that you aren't spending more time with
your partner? Has past experience led you to worry in your
relationships that your partner is going to leave you? Do you find
some of your partner's behaviors towards you disrespectful?

Figure out the best way to proceed, given your ultimate goals and
your values. With your feelings under control, consult your head.
Are you glad you stopped yourself from impulsively acting on your feelings?

If you want to continue to be in a relationship with your partner, it's

probably best not to say that you want to break up every time you feel
insecure in the relationship, right? Threats are usually based on
emotions out of control.
Once you work through the Stop, Drop and Process steps, you are going
to be better able to figure out a healthy way to deal with the
challenging emotions that you're feeling.

Managing Your Emotions at Work

Controlling Your Feelings... Before They Control You
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,




Common Negative Emotions at Work

According to Fisher's research, the most common negative emotions
experienced in the workplace are as follows:

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:

Stop and evaluate One of the best things you can do is mentally
stop yourself, and look at the situation. Ask yourself why you feel
frustrated. Write it down, and be specific. Then think of one positive
thing about your current situation. For instance, if your boss is late for
your meeting, then you have more time to prepare. Or, you could use
this time to relax a little.
Find something positive about the situation Thinking about a
positive aspect of your situation often makes you look at things in a

diferent way. This small change in your thinking can improve your
mood. When it's people who are causing your frustration, they're
probably not doing it deliberately to annoy you. And if it's a thing that's
bothering you well, it's certainly not personal! Don't get mad, just
move on.
Remember the last time you felt frustrated The last time you
were frustrated about something, the situation probably worked out just
fine after a while, right? Your feelings of frustration or irritation probably
didn't do much to solve the problem then, which means they're not
doing anything for you right now.

With all the fear and anxiety that comes with increasing numbers of
layofs, 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:

Don't surround yourself with worry and anxiety For example, if

co-workers gather in the break room to gossip and talk about job cuts,
then don't go there and worry with everyone else. Worrying tends to
lead to more worrying, and that isn't good for anyone.

Try deep-breathing exercises This helps slow your breathing and

your heart rate. Breathe in slowly for five seconds, then breathe out
slowly for five seconds. Focus on your breathing, and nothing else. Do
this at least five times. For more on this, read Physical Relaxation
Techniques .

Focus on how to improve the situation If you fear being laid of,
and you sit there and worry, that probably won't help you keep your job.
Instead, why not brainstorm ways to bring in more business, and show
how valuable you are to the company?

Write down your worries in a worry log If you find that worries
are churning around inside your mind, write them down in a notebook
or 'worry log,' and then schedule a time to deal with them. Before that
time, you can forget about these worries, knowing that you'll deal with
them. When it comes to the time you've scheduled, conduct a proper
risk analysis
around these things, and take whatever actions are
necessary to mitigate any risks.

When you're worried and nervous about something, it can dent your
self-confidence. 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:

Watch for early signs of anger Only you know the danger signs
when anger is building, so learn to recognize them when they begin.
Stopping your anger early is key. Remember, you can choose how you
react in a situation. Just because your first instinct is to become angry
doesn't mean it's the correct response.

If you start to get angry, stop what you're doing Close your
eyes, and practice the deep-breathing exercise we described earlier.
This interrupts your angry thoughts, and it helps put you back on a
more positive path.

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:

Be respectful If you have to work with someone you don't get along
with, then it's time to set aside your pride and ego. Treat the person
with courtesy and respect, as you would treat anyone else. Just because
this person behaves in an unprofessional manner, that doesn't mean
you should as well.

Be assertive If the other person is rude and unprofessional, then

firmly explain that you refuse to be treated that way, and calmly leave
the situation. Remember, set the example.

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 sufered 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
disappointment and unhappiness:







Look at your mindset Take a moment to realize that things won't

always go your way. If they did, life would be a straight road instead of
one with hills and valleys, ups and downs, right? And it's the hills and
valleys that often make life so interesting.

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.

Record your thoughts Write down exactly what is making you

unhappy. Is it a co-worker? Is it your job? Do you have too much to do?
Once you identify the problem, start brainstorming ways to solve it or
work around it. Remember, you always have the power to change your

Smile! Strange as it may sound, forcing a smile or even a grimace

onto your face can often make you feel happy (this is one of the strange
ways in which we humans are 'wired.') Try it you may be surprised!

Prasad L.H, Organisational Behaviour