Managing emotions in the workplace

People are not isolated emotional islands, so positive people tend to do better in the workplace.

You know the type: coworkers who never have anything positive to say, whether at the weekly staff meeting or in the canteen queue. They suck energy from brainstorming sessions with a few choice comments and their bad mood frequently puts other people into one as well.

Their negativity can even contaminate good news, says Sigal Barsade, a professor of management at Wharton business school. “We engage in emotional contagion,” she says. “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.”

Professor Barsade is the co-author, with Donald Gibson of Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University, of a paper called Why Does Affect Matter in Organisations? The answer: employees’ moods, emotions and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership.

Affect matters because people are not isolated emotional islands. Rather, they bring all of themselves to work, including their traits, moods and emotions, and their affective experiences and expressions influence others.

“Everyone brings their emotions to work,” Professor Barsade says. “You bring your brain to work. You bring your emotions to work. Feelings drive performance. They drive behaviour and other feelings. Think of people as emotion conductors.”

Emotions don’t have to be grand and obvious to have an impact. Subtle displays of emotion such as a quick frown can have an effect as well. For example, imagine that your boss is generally good-tempered, but you see him in a meeting and his eyes flash at you. Even if he doesn’t glare at you for the rest of the meeting, his eyes have conveyed information that is going to leave you concerned for the rest of the meeting, Professor Barsade says.

This can be looked at as a classic example of the development of emotions in a workplace. While subtle gestures and negative comments might be a thing to get used to during work, keeping a tab on stress might be far more complex, and a lot more important to handle. In this context, strong leadership qualities can play a pivotal role. Recognizing the importance of employee well-being, organizations often implement leadership coaching programs that aim to equip employees with the skills to foster a healthy and supportive workplace culture. By participating in leadership coaching, managers can enhance their ability to identify and address emotional dynamics effectively.

That being said, there could be several factors contributing to work-related stress, leading to aggression and emotional distress, which hampers both quality and quantity of work. Suffice to say that it is important to induce a healthy working environment by reducing excess workload for employees, and to help your managers avoid burnout due to stress and pressure to reach targets. This practice of de-stressing can help form a clearer headspace for each worker, and bring forward a more positive outlook towards the job.

Furthermore, managing emotions in the workplace is crucial, and taking breaks throughout the day plays a key role in achieving this. It’s important to note that working continuously can lead to mental fatigue and increased irritability, potentially resulting in unnecessary arguments and workplace conflicts. Therefore, it is vital to clear the mind and relax, whether by taking a break to enjoy a cup of tea or engaging in other activities. Some individuals may also consider smoking during their breaks to destress. Alternatively, individuals attempting to quit smoking could find disposable vapes, nicotine gums or patches to satisfy their nicotine cravings. It is worth noting that vaping, nicotine gums and patches can contribute to a sense of calm and, over time, may aid in reducing nicotine or cigarette intake.

That being said, remember that positive people tend to do better in the workplace, but this isn’t simply because people like them more than naysayers; positive people think more efficiently and more appropriately. “If you’re in a negative mood, a fair amount of processing is going into that mood. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re more open to taking in information and handling it effectively.” This is why, if you’re wanting to be more productive while you’re at work, you should learn to control your emotions during your work hours. Some people can find this hard, and may need extra help via therapy sessions, or perhaps even medication, whether that be prescribed medication from a medical professional or even taking a look at alternative and natural medications such as these you can see when viewing here at or a similar online store.

While you can’t necessarily change your coworkers, you can take steps to avoid catching a negative mood. For example, before you attend meetings, tell yourself that you are not going to be bothered by the person who shoots down everyone’s ideas, or that you are not going to let that person become the focus of your attention.

And take extra care when using e-mail: messages can easily be misunderstood because they are devoid of facial expressions, intonation and body language, which are used to convey emotions.



Meredith Weisser

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