Today’s workplace is more charged with emotion than ever, and many individuals deal with the pressure by bottling up their feelings until they explode in anger or sadness. How can stressed-out employees manage these strong emotions without venting at work or isolating colleagues?
Dennis Nishi tackled this very topic in his latest piece for The Wall Street Journal, speaking with management professor Sigal Barsade of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for some insight. Barsade’s research deals with how emotions in organizations influence action, and she shared a volume of advice for dealing with strong emotions in a healthy yet responsible way.
Here are a few of Barsade’s recommendations:
- Zoom out. The first step for all employees, according to Barsade, is to consider their spot on the totem pole and compose themselves accordingly. For example, senior executives must manage their emotions more carefully and professionally than an entry-level associate.
- Vent outside work. Avoid venting at work at all costs. If waiting until the end of the workday to vent is impossible, excuse yourself and head home.
- Consult a professional. Seek out objective insight from a third party like a career coach or therapist, or ask for support from your personal network.
- Consider other perspectives. Barsade suggests reflecting on what happened by writing down the incident from your antagonist’s point of view. Use your newfound understanding of the other party’s reasoning to brainstorm ways to move forward.
- Consider your fit with company culture. Barsade cautions that those who face persistent struggles at work may just be a poor fit for the company’s emotional culture. “What’s acceptable to express or suppress varies widely from place to place,” she explained. “Southwest Airlines is the culture of love, where you’re expected to show positive emotions. American Airlines has a more constrained emotional culture. Being in the wrong place can take an emotional toll.”
Have you ever experienced strong emotions at work? How did you regain composure?
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