How to Manage and Control Your Emotions in the New Normal

You’ve been promoted. What are your initial thoughts on the news? Particularly since several of your coworkers are laid off on the same day. How do you keep your excitement in check without upsetting your former coworkers? Or are you one of those who will gloat no matter who is in the room or what is going on?

As our professional lives

Become more demanding

And the line between home and work becomes increasingly blurred, the majority of us are confronted with competing priorities, limited resources, and emotional overload. After all, we are HUMANS with real emotions, and with mental health being more important than ever, it is time to recognize how we truly feel at work and learn to manage all our emotions.

The ability

To listen to our own emotions

We all have moments when we want to lash out at our superiors or peers for violating our boundaries, not “getting it,” interfering with our projects, crossing the line, stepping behind our backs, taking advantage of our absence, or simply playing the old and cold business game.

These are natural emotions. They happen to everyone from time to time. What matters is what you DO with these emotions. You cannot function effectively when your logical brain is hijacked by fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, and sadness. According to Daniel Coleman, the Emotional Intelligence guru, “Controlling your emotions and learning to perform more productively under stressful circumstances are critical to success in today’s workplace.”

"Controlling your emotions and learning to perform more productively under stressful circumstances are critical to success in today's workplace."

Identifying emotions is usually accomplished by reflecting on oneself and one’s experiences, but controlling emotions is a lifelong process.

If you find that your emotions are getting the best of you, below are some practical steps you can take to return to a calm and logical state, allowing you to make decisions that are truly best for you or react in a way that does not leave you with regrets.

According to a 1997 study by Prof. Cynthia Fisher of Bond University’s School of Business, the most common negative emotions felt at work are:

What the world requires now, more than ever, is

Authentic Leaders

Who communicate clearly and authentically without using phony personas. People value sincerity and authenticity in a world where so much is fabricated. We want our leaders to take the stage and speak from the heart. This form of communication is far more effective than any video, email, or tweet. It motivates people to want to hear from you, connect with you, and work with you.

  • Frustration
  • Worry
  • Anger
  • Dislike
  • Unhappiness

All of these emotions make us feel stressed and overwhelmed, but there are several activities we can do to mitigate their negative effects. Rather than focusing on individual coping strategies for each emotion, I’d like to propose five practical tips that can be used in any situation and will assist you in developing a new behavioral mindset. “Anyone can become angry – that is simple,” Aristotle said. “But being angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way is difficult.”

These simple insights below will help you lay down a solid foundation for managing your emotions and progressing forward with your team and yourself:


1. Investigate the situation. Instead of going on the defensive and attempting to defend or force your point of view, learn from the situation. Consider what is truly going on with that employee, coworker, or the entire team. What prompted them to act in this manner? How come they were so rude to your customers? How can you make them realize that such behavior is unacceptable? You won’t be able to change much unless you calm down and try to see things from their perspective.

“When you change someone’s point of view against their will, you’ve never truly changed them,” the old adage goes.

You lose the battle the moment you lose control and retaliate (even if you’re correct). Controlling your emotions and investigating the other person’s point of view, on the other hand, opens the door to a calm and enlightening discussion.

2. Label your emotions. Being emotionally honest is one of the qualities that will distinguish you as a true leader. If you are angry, frustrated, or confused, express your feelings. Even if the people to whom you express your feelings are those who irritate you. You make a more personal connection when you calmly share your emotions with those around you.

You don’t ever attack anyone. You simply talk about the situation that made you feel this way.

By displaying this side of yourself, you demonstrate your authenticity and vulnerability, which people appreciate in a leader. While making friends may not be your primary concern at work, opening yourself up to your team will help develop a sense of trust and loyalty towards you.

3. Stay in integrity with your values. Emotional control does not imply you sacrifice your values. Quite the contrary. When a difficult subject needs to be addressed, you will be fully capable of doing so… but in a calm manner. When the truth needs to be told, others will look to you. Showing others that you have integrity and stand by your values will help to define your reputation. Respect is always accorded to those whose “yes” is “yes” and whose “no” is “no”.

“Humility is the mother of all virtues, courage the father, integrity the child and wisdom the grandchild.” — Stephen Covey

4. Tactfully handle toxic negativity. It appears that regardless of the size or type of organization you work for, or how educated some people are, some have a very difficult time dealing with conflict and regulating their emotions at work. These are the ones that continually complain, create confrontations, and lack control of their emotions.

This is challenging for everyone involved, especially if the other person is your boss. Whatever your position is, you should not be afraid to speak up and tell them that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy. Know your boundaries and make them clear to those around you. Make a complaint if the toxic person crosses the line and becomes abusive or inappropriate in a professional setting.

You don’t have to become friends with everyone at work, but you can communicate and work without hurting anyone.

Whatever you do, don’t allow it to become personal. Accept the fact that you will not get along with everyone at work and that some will try to test your boundaries.

5. Proactively make plans for work breaks. Everyone benefits from a break. Whether it is a long weekend or a whole week, it is important to take a break from your job and routine to keep stress levels in check. It took me years to realize this, but by taking a much-needed break, I am not avoiding responsibility, but rather strengthening my resilience.

I strongly advise you to take a break every couple of months. Think of it as an investment in your personal development. You’re looking after yourself, so you can feel refreshed and restored and perform at your best.

The Bottom Line

We are HUMANS with many emotions

and we may be confronted with negative emotions at work from time to time. Learning to manage such emotions is critical, and failure to do so can have negative consequences. Emotional control takes practice and effort, but the benefits are numerous. It can help us recognize problems before they occur, handle situations maturely, and become the crisis leader that everyone wants to follow. Just keep in mind that controlling emotions is a lifelong process.

change management

About the author:

Carole Nicolaides, MBA is the CEO of Progressive Leadership Inc. and has over 20 years business experience in the areas of organizational change management, organizational effectiveness, program management and leadership development. She held senior roles in the information technology, financial services, communications, government agencies and healthcare industries. Carole’s pragmatic, fluff-free and grounded perspective on leadership prepares management and their teams actively to lead the change. Contact us today to learn more about how you can create a culture that supports your changing initiatives.

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