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Beauty & Confidence

Managing Emotions in the Workplace: Your Survival Guide

Our psychologist explains how to keep your emotions in check while you’re on the job.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than bursting into tears at work in front of your peers, or -- even worse -- your boss. Managing emotions in the workplace can be challenging with all the hours we spend at the office, plus the stress of looming deadlines, plus office politics and our own personal lives. There’s no doubt that feelings factor in. Too much emotion, however, can be off-putting to your supervisors or colleagues, and it can even damage careers.

Despite our best efforts to be professional, chances are that at some point, most of us have found ourselves reaching for the box of tissues to dab away tears after a less-than-glowing performance review, or we have even retreated to the bathroom for a good sob and nose-blowing session. In fact, one case study found that 41 percent of women and 9 percent of men had cried on the job.

To help manage your emotions in the workplace, consider these strategies:

1. Keep things in perspective. Next time you’re having an upsetting conversation with a colleague and you feel the tears coming, take a deep breath. Try to keep things in perspective (“That botched report won’t really affect our bottom line”) and stay positive (“Besides this one instance, my performance numbers are consistently among the highest on staff”).

2. Give yourself time. If you’re too emotional to talk, say you’re upset and need some time to process what you’ve discussed. Then, respond in person when you’re better able to (or via email if you’re still too emotional).

3. Address the underlying problem. If you find yourself reduced to tears every once in a while, with a reasonable cause or explanation, it’s not likely that anyone will look askew. However, if you find yourself consistently bursting into tears or experiencing rage, it’s time to ask if your feelings are symptomatic of a larger issue -- and to come up with a solution to manage your workplace emotions.

If you’re constantly feeling stressed out by unreasonable deadlines, approach your boss with a plan that would give you more lag time. In the case of being blindsided by a bad review, make an effort to request feedback from your boss along the way so you won’t be caught off guard and can be prepared for your next assessment.

It’s easy to get caught up in frustrating work situations that can drive us all to tears and have us reaching for the tissues, but usually if you look for constructive solutions, you’ll find better ways of managing your emotions in the workplace.

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