Managing Emotions in the Workplace

I recently had a team ask me if emotional displays were appropriate in the workplace. When I asked them what they meant, they shared with me that one member of their team would sometimes cry when discussing topics that were relevant to his or her work. I took the time to explore the situation with the person. I concluded that his or her behavior resulted because some team members didn’t see the issue in the same way or feel as passionately as they did about the situation that was being discussed. When we consider the appropriateness of emotional displays, the expression of emotion could be placed along a continuum from aggressive or “hot” to passive or “cold.” Obviously when someone begins to shout, demean, or use derogatory terms, the person who is confronted by such behavior will usually respond in two ways: they will respond in kind and meet “hot” emotion with “hot” emotion, or they will completely shut down.

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12 Tips for Improving Emotional Control

Recently my college-age son hit a large piece of asphalt while driving our 1997 Toyota Avalon down a country road at night. The impact against the undercarriage caused the airbags to deploy and shatter the car’s windshield. Thankfully, except for a concussion, my son was not seriously hurt. Days later, when talking with him about the accident in person, my initial feelings of gratitude turned to worry about the cost of fixing the car, and disappointment and anger due to his lack of judgment.

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How Emotionally Intelligent Are You Really?10 Questions for Assessing Your Ability to Keep Your Cool

A few weeks ago I was taking my son to school in the midst of a snow storm. As I pulled into the student drop-off at the high school, I noticed a woman who was getting into her car as I was waiting to move forward. I was about up to her car when she got in, and started to back out. As there wasn't really room for her to pull out, so I pulled forward past her. Her rear lights went on and she started to back out just as I passed her.

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10 Tips for Defusing Defensiveness

It is not uncommon as we interact with others for individuals to become emotional or defensive in the moment. When this occurs you must remember that their reaction says more about them than it does about you. Why? Because their feelings or reaction were created by them. An individual’s emotional response originates in the negative interpretation or judgment that they are assigning to whatever you are either saying or doing. For example, have you ever become frustrated with someone who has promised to provide you something that you need by a certain deadline and they frequently fail to deliver? It is...

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What People Wished Their Leaders Knew

During my years as a consultant, I have often had people say to me, “I wish my leader knew …” to which I would encourage the individual to speak up and raise an issue of real concern so things might improve. When I did this, I often got the following responses: “It won’t make a difference.” “I don’t want to get in trouble.” “It will just make them mad.” Whatever the excuse for not speaking up, I noticed that most people were afraid of the consequences. Perhaps they thought negative things would occur because of the team atmosphere. However, I found that it didn’t...

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How Can We Help Others to Engage?

Many times when I speak at conferences, individuals will find me after a session and request coaching with a difficult situation. These encounters always provide wonderful opportunities for learning and expanding my knowledge of the human condition. A couple of years ago, a young woman came to me and asked for some assistance in mending her relationship with her sister. She told me how her sister refused to engage with her or talk in any way. I asked if I could ask her some personal questions to help both of us understand the situation. She agreed. I told her to place...

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Do Words Really Matter? Six Questions to Improve the Power of Your Message

Recently my son decided that he wanted to change a class in his junior high schedule. My wife and son went to pay a visit to the school counselor. During the meeting, the counselor asked him why he wanted to change to a different science teacher. He said, “Well, most of the time I have a difficult time focusing, which makes the teacher really hard to understand.” To this the counselor replied, “What you really mean is that your teacher is boring and you can’t stay awake. Is that right?” He responded, “Well I didn’t say exactly that.” Unfortunately for...

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Do You Let Your Feelings Get the Best of You? Eight Tips for Managing Your Emotions

For some time now I have been coaching a manager who has had several challenges with her director. One Friday night recently, my wife and I had gone out of town for the weekend for a little rest and to do some planning for the upcoming year. At about 12:30 a.m. the phone rang. This client was calling to tell me that she had texted her boss and quit her job. I was shocked and somewhat disappointed by her decision. I tried to help her see the upside of all she had been able to accomplish, but her mind was...

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