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How To Handle Emotions At Work In A Healthy, Productive Way

Sometimes we’re overcome by our emotions, other times we bottle them up. Here’s how to find the right balance at work.

How To Handle Emotions At Work In A Healthy, Productive Way
[Photo: Flickr user Daniel Oldfield]

Not so long ago, emotions were considered to be bothersome, unnecessary obstacles to productivity in the workplace, and we were told to leave them at the door once we got to work.

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While this attitude still exists, most of us recognize that our emotions are part of who we are, and we have no choice but to bring them to work. But the question now becomes, how do we deal with them once we enter work?

While we can’t give emotions free reign and let them run amok, we can’t just ignore them either. We have seen far too many instances where suppressed emotions have finally exploded in cases of workplace violence and other drastic actions.

Here are some ideas for creating a healthy emotional workplace:

Demonstrate That Emotions Are Acceptable

In word and deed, leadership must demonstrate that showing some emotion is an acceptable part of being part of the organization. They can share their feelings when speaking by expressing their joys and fears. In writing, they can sprinkle their message with emotional words to show they have feelings like the rest of us. This will bring leaders closer to their staff and go a long way towards establishing trust.

Make It Acceptable To Leave A Situation When Overwhelmed By Strong Emotion

Sometimes emotions like anger and grief can become so strong that the best way to deal with them is to leave a situation until we get our emotions under control. Staff at all levels must feel free to do this and not be subject to judgment or incrimination. Management can demonstrate this is acceptable at all levels by showing sensitivity and support to those who leave meetings and other events when overcome by their feelings.

Put On Workshops And Courses On Handling Emotions

A great way for an organization to be proactive and acknowledge the importance of emotions is to put on workshops or training for staff. Alternatively, the staff should be encouraged to take courses in dealing with emotions and give them credit for doing so. This would be a way of showing they understand and recognize the importance of emotions in the workplace.

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Encourage Having Fun At Work

A workplace where people are having fun is an emotionally healthy place. Giving people the opportunity to express themselves through play also helps to be more emotionally open in all areas. Studies have also shown that people who are having fun at work are more productive than those who are not.

Build A Workplace Of Engagement And Inclusion

The more a workplace is engaged and becomes familiar with each other, the more open the members will be to share emotions. Encourage staff to get to know one another outside of the workplace as well as during work. Volunteer activities outside of work events provide an opportunity for employees to get to know each another at another level.

The more we get to know one another at work, the more we see the whole person whose life revolves around dealing with multiple aspects of life. This allows us to better appreciate their fears, struggles, and joys that they are open to sharing with us.

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About the author

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com

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