Ugh! It’s happened again!
Another week has passed and you’re still miserable at work.
Deep down you know you have to control your emotions. Fits of rage followed by apathy aren’t going to keep you on the payroll. But you just don’t know how.
The truth is you’re not alone; 80% of India’s workforce is unhappy or dissatisfied with their job.
In metros like Mumbai and Bengaluru in India, work-related emotional stressors like anger, frustration, and anxiety are pushing a chunk of the workforce towards depression, physical illnesses, and emotional instability.
- Worry or insecurity
- Feeling down
These emotions not only make it difficult for you to perform to the best of your ability, but also hamper teamwork. Hence, it is imperative that you work on managing (not controlling) your emotions at work.
Here are some tips on managing your emotions at work based on how you feel right now:
I feel overworked—I’m doing the work of 4 people and I just can’t take it.
Feeling overworked is a common workplace stressor. Sometimes it’s because you actually have a ton of work and limited time. But equally as often, it's because you don’t enjoy the work and every task seems like a drag. Take this quiz to find out how overworked you really are. If the test comes back positive and you are indeed overworked, consider talking to your supervisor.
Telling your boss that you are overworked can be tricky—you don’t want your boss to think that you are just complaining or that you are incapable of handling the work entrusted to you. Make sure you have a list of all the projects and tasks you’re handling and communicate the specific issues you’re facing. For example, setting up a new digital marketing strategy is taking up most of your time, leaving all of your other projects incomplete.
However, if you’re working late every day or taking work home just because you take long breaks and your funny dog video compilations eat up most of your work time, let’s be honest—you aren’t overworked.
I feel frustrated / irritated—I fought with my partner before leaving for work.
Train your brain to compartmentalise personal and professional issues. Yes, we are human beings with a complex range of emotions—and so it is perfectly acceptable to take time off and deal with personal problems. However, in the long run, if you are incapable of making the distinction between personal and professional woes, it will poorly affect both your productivity and happiness.
Several workplace situations can also lead to feelings of frustration and irritation. For example, you don’t succeed in a project because your co-worker underperformed or your organisation decided not to assign funds for your research. While you might not have the solution to these problems, evaluating what frustrates you and searching for positives in the situation can help you stay focused and motivated.
I feel nervous / anxious—I have a big presentation next week and I’m not prepared.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all had to deal with the imposter syndrome—making us victims of nervousness and anxiety. While there is no quick fix to prepare for a long overdue presentation, you can always ask colleagues for help or explain to your team why you need an extension on the deadline.
More often than not, anxiety kicks in even when we are prepared. In such situations, breathing exercises or mind relaxation and meditation sessions provide great relief. Instead of focusing on the fact that you’re not prepared, shift your thoughts towards identifying what you can do to fix the problem.
Stressful situations like an unexpected layoff or the loss of a big account can fuel an organisation-wide frenzy. The solution can be as simple as tuning out negative people, practicing meditation, and brainstorming with colleagues on how to bring in more clients.
I feel angry / aggravated—My client’s expectations on deadlines are unrealistic.
Throughout the world, businesses face the issue of extremely short deadlines on projects resulting in chaos and poor quality of the work delivered. Managing a team in this chaos becomes difficult and hence results in feelings of anger and aggravation.
A common cause for anger among millennials today is having to listen to and accept orders from co-workers less qualified than them. For example, an intern assisting your boss on a project is condescending in his behaviour towards you. You are bound to feel angry and might also want to give him a piece of your mind. In such situations, it is best to follow the 10 second rule—breathe and think before you react. It’s a proven method that prevents unnecessary arguments and fights. If you tend to lose your temper with certain colleagues or over certain topics, watch out for similar situations in the future and prepare yourself to avoid them.
Sometimes, it will be difficult to control your emotions, and that can lead to an outburst. Once you’ve had a chance to calm down, leave your ego behind and apologise to the person. In fact, if you are comfortable with them, explain to them why you were irrational and work out a way to communicate better next time.
I feel disrespected / disliked—I have a demanding and rude customer.
We’ve heard this time and again. The customer is always right. However, you have to also remember that even though your customers are important, and they pays your bills, you are not their servant. There are times when you will be disrespected by them and your company will expect you to accept the client’s tantrums. Such situations can cause a huge dislike for both the customer and the company. The ideal way of handling such problems is by being respectful. Instead of reacting to the other person’s foul mood, you can be the bigger person and try to solve the problem. If things get out of hand, be assertive about how you should be treated and leave the argument.
I feel unhappy / disappointed—I feel like I’m doing the same tasks everyday.
Work can become monotonous, too. Doing the same tasks every day, year after year, can lead to negative emotions like disappointment, poor self confidence, and even depression. It is important to train your brain to be positive in such situations. Regularly analysing the impact of the work you do could give you a positive boost. If you’re unhappy with your role, take it up with your boss and find some interesting additions to your regular tasks.
Often, different triggers can set off negative thoughts. For example, a difficult co-worker, not being awarded for your hard work, inability to complete a project on time, etc., are all reasons to feel unhappy at work. Keeping a journal to identify such triggers and analysing possible ways to overcome them will help you a great deal.
I feel envious / jealous—I feel really envious of my colleague’s success.
In today’s competitive rat-race, it is almost impossible to not feel envious of other people’s success. Envy is considered a negative emotion, but it is an indication of what you desire. And taken positively, envy can help you identify how the people you're envious about achieved success, and eventually help you draw up a plan to achieve these things for yourself. However, every step towards achieving these newly acquired goals should be taken consciously, and not constantly under the influence of envy.
I’m plagued by self doubt—I don’t think I will ever be good enough.
If you ever find yourself feeling down because you aren’t good enough, don’t believe your thoughts. Instead, make a list of all the things you could’ve done better and remember to do it all the next time. Much like envy, self doubt, if taken positively, can help you improve significantly. However, if you end up making excuses and justifying why you weren’t good enough, you will be burdened with this negative emotion for the rest of your life.
It helps to surround yourself with people who admire you and are often positive about your contributions. If you find yourself seeking validation from your teammates over every little task you do, know that things are getting out of hand. In such situations, trust your instincts and analyse the project yourself; learning to believe in your capabilities takes practice, so keep at it.
I am depressed / apathetic—Sometimes, for no reason, I zone out and don’t feel like working at all.
Feelings of depression and apathy can arise for multiple reasons—a lack of community or the absence of camaraderie among workers, stagnancy in job roles, lack of appreciation from management, poor work conditions, lack of direction from executive leadership, etc. Being apathetic at work means more mistakes and a drop in productivity, thereby negatively affecting the company’s goal and bottom line.
One way to motivate yourself in such situations is to think about the positives of your role and your company. If you’re up for it, keep a gratitude journal where you can list all these positives daily. You can offer to help on projects that interest you or mentor a few interns or new joinees. Remember, having a strong support system at work is absolutely essential.
I feel guilty—I chose to hide some facts from a colleague to make an impression during a meeting.
In Darwin’s world, you did nothing wrong. However, if certain actions trigger feelings of guilt, you may refrain from repeating them in the future. For example, when you hide important information, offer to give some insights for nothing in return the next time. If you’re feeling guilty for being rude or shouting at a colleague, apologise and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Some situations will be out of your control, and feeling guilty in these times will only affect you negatively. It’s important to understand the extent of control you have in the organisation. If a co-worker is inducing guilt in you, politely explain to the person your inability to help and be assertive about how you want the person to treat you.
Now that you know a little more about managing all these negative emotions at work, let’s see how well you actually perform. It’s game time! Here are the rules:
- Identify the top 3 negative emotions you feel at work and write them down in a journal.
- For the first week, only notice how you behave or react to situations. Make an entry in your journal about your feelings, reactions, and mood.
- For the next week, consciously (and with the help of our article) try to manage situations and your emotions better. Make sure you enter your responses in the journal (again).
- At the end of 2 weeks, analyse the difference in your regular work day, your mood, your productivity, and most importantly, your happiness.
Suggested further reading: The Road to Happiness is Paved With Positive Storytelling by Akhil Kakkar in YourStory.com.