Emotions are part of being human and, as a result, part of how we work. In businesses where expectations often run high and resources low, emotional outbursts are common.
If you’re a manager, there’s the additional pressure to set the tone by appearing in control while managing your team. But that is a tall order. The complexities of business make an emotion-free workplace unrealistic, so managers are better served to learn to handle it appropriately versus trying to banish it from the office altogether.
The unflappable manager is a fallacy. The demands of running a business – constant time crunch for strategic planning, performance reviews, the anxiety of making payroll, etc., can often be overwhelming. As a manager, there’s also added pressure to maintain a management style that keeps a lid on emotions. Sometimes it feels like we need body armor to make it through the day.
Managers who are honest about their struggles will earn employee loyalty and trust. If your staff is not aware of the pressure you are under, they cannot work to help you and the team in a way that is meaningful. When you keep everything in until the 11th hour then explode, you damage your credibility and your relationships.
Managing emotions in the workplace starts well before the geyser erupts. Look for what is triggering an employee’s emotional behavior in the first place. This positions you to deal with issues at their root level. The goal isn’t to pretend the emotions aren’t there, but to step in and help the employee gain composure.
We are all human and have emotions that are hard to handle at times. Applying some empathy and possibly the space to regain composure is a compassionate approach.
Did you know that we are physiologically wired for tears? I recently learned that women have six times the amount of prolactin (the hormone that controls tears) than men and our tear ducts are significantly larger. Tears communicate that something in our lives is out of kilter right now. We are overworked, we feel angry, or we are frustrated. Rather than seeing tears as a sign of weakness, they signify that there is an underlying need that should be addressed.
Try looking for the same emotional triggers in yourself that you do in others. When you get into a position of feeling overwhelmed, if you can be self-aware enough to know the things that put you in that vulnerable state, you can be in a better place to manage it. That ability will help you notice and assist others to manage their emotions.
When it comes to emotion in the workplace, managers have a complex challenge where the ripple effect of any emotional situation can run deep. Great managers can set themselves apart by approaching emotions as part of the human condition that shows our vulnerability and our passion for a job well done.