Managing Your Emotions in the Workplace

Emotions are a large part of being a human, and you can’t just leave them at the door when you enter the workplace. In your personal life, your reaction to a change of plans might be to yell, blame, and criticize. But at work, these types of behavior can damage coworker relationships, morale, and your professional reputation.

Stressful situations are all too common in the workplace. Still, an environment that allows emotional outbursts will not only lose top talent but also leak money from low morale, commitment, and productivity. In this article, I’m going to give you some insight into the common negative emotions experienced in the workplace and ways you can learn how to control your emotions before they control you.

First Things First

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it makes sense to take the time to calm down. If you are with others, simply say, “I need a moment to process this. I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” and then take a break. It is more professional to walk away and collect yourself than to continue a conversation while your emotions are triggered. Neglecting your feelings will only have adverse effects, and it’s important to be aware of your emotional state. Take a ten-minute walk outside or around the office. Moving will help shift the emotional energy and calm the nervous system. Don’t talk to others; just breathe and focus on calming down before you return to the conversation.

Frustration / Anger

Frustration usually occurs when you feel trapped, stuck, or controlled in some way. It could arise when a project is stalled by another department, disorganized meetings, or a long-winded coworker who won’t get to the point. Frustration, interoffice conflicts, and disrespect can quickly lead to anger and irrational behavior, such as rude comments, explosive outbursts, or threatening to quit. One key for managing workplace anger is to remove yourself from the situation, calm down, and return when you can take a more rational approach to handle the situation.

Envy / Jealousy

Equity theory says that we are all motivated by a sense of fairness, and that’s why policies, performance reviews, and incentives drive us to work harder so we can earn appreciation and rewards. Unfortunately, when individual employees are allowed to violate workplace policy, or rewards aren’t distributed fairly, it can lead to negative emotions of envy and jealousy.

When others get away with bad behavior or breaking rules, it is easy to start taking score and letting it negatively affect your attitude. Notifying HR will help remedy the problem before it starts to affect you personally. If you find yourself becoming jealous or envious of someone getting attention or a promotion, take a moment to assess the situation and make sure you are not misjudging yourself against someone who has more experience, education, or time at the company than you.

Boys Don’t Cry

Women are more likely than men to cry at work, but men also experience emotions in the workplace. They just have different ways of expressing and dealing with them. Men are twice as likely as women to get emotional when they’re criticized or feel like their ideas weren’t heard and three times more likely to express anger when plans get canceled, or they miss a deadline. Women are more likely to cry at work when they feel frustrated, criticized, overlooked, whereas men become more verbal and confrontational with their emotions.

Rather than seeing tears as a sign of weakness, or anger as a bruised ego, be aware that both signify an underlying need that should be addressed. It could mean an employee is overworked, sick, angry, or frustrated, and it’s the manager’s job to address it and support the employee to find a resolution. Making an effort to understand the employee’s feelings gives you the necessary information to handle the issues at the root level. You will be much more likely to prevent an outburst that hurts team morale if you’re able to diffuse it before it gets to the boiling point.


When you are concerned about your career and where it is going, it can generate anxiety or depression. Usually, the more you try to ignore these feelings, the more they will persist, but if you share your struggle with your team, it may increase loyalty and trust because they can relate to you. It doesn’t mean you have to divulge all the personal details of your life, but sharing your feelings can strengthen the team and help them to be more mindful about creating unnecessary drama.

In conclusion, it is unrealistic to expect your workplace to be emotion-free. Too many unforeseen events and outside influences make it impossible to work in an emotionally controlled environment. The key is creating a company culture that teaches, models, and encourages emotional intelligence, so employees feel safe and supported while learning how to manage their emotions appropriately.

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