Scene 1: Peers X and Y are engaged in a fierce altercation in front of the entire office. Peer X is shouting at Y and passing personal comments and Peer Y is retorting with equal ease. No one is willing to end the matter.
Scene 2: Your boss shouted at you for no apparent fault of yours. This made you cry in front of others and you angrily walked out leaving your important work midway.
Scene 3: Your direct report prepared a report which had many errors; you threw the report in front of others and showed your extreme displeasure.
What is the common thread between the three scenes? In all the scenes, protagonists couldn’t keep their calm, lost their cool and disrupted the harmony at the workplace. What impact it led to? Upset faces, strained relationships, loss of productive hours, and enough unhealthy fodder for useless discussions. Could the situation be salvaged- of course!, if protagonists were calm and had controlled their emotional outbursts! The question is- how can one control such emotional tirades at work?
Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can escape such embarrassing situations by reining in our emotions.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate: Communication is in fact the key to iron out many differences and conflicts between the two people. Whenever you realize that there are some points of conflict between you and your colleague, just get up and approach the colleague and talk privately about the issue.
The communication, however has to be two way; put forth your points, clarify your case but also listen to your colleague’s perspective patiently. Don’t leave the communication midway, wait till you both reach an amicable solution for the problem.
Refrain from any personal attack: While discussing an issue with your colleague, always refrain from passing any personal remark. Be professional and only discuss the work related issues. If the issue is personal, it should be discussed outside the office or in private.
Involve others whom you both trust: when it is realized that you both have not been able to iron out the differences, you may request the third party intervention which is trusted by both of you. It can be anyone from your HR manager to your boss to simply a peer who is close to both of you and is capable of solving the matter.
Breathe easy: It’s an old trick but the trusted one! Whenever you fee irritated or realize that the tension is building up, just take a deep breath and hold your emotions till the tension fades away. Gather all your calm and then only talk. Choose the right words and talk slowly and steadily.
Visualize: Be rationale, use your logic and gauge how much weight does the ‘case of conflict’ carry for you. If you visualize that the issue is petty and getting involved in it will only yield minimum or no returns, then it is better to let go of such issues.
Ability to visualize the possible outcomes for any situation can help us greatly in making some critical decisions especially when we are blinded by our own emotions and feelings.
Distract yourself: At times, distracting yourself with something else during an emotional situation is advisable. You can probably take a short tea/coffee break, go out for a short walk or simply plug on your headphones and listen to something soothing and relaxing. However, please ensure that any of these activities don’t interfere with your work.
Emotional Masking: It is ok and in fact in some cases, essential to mask or hide some of your extreme emotions like crying or an urge to shout at someone. The better bet would be to express your emotions subtly at the workplace. You can cry in private or better, instead of crying, you can choose to escape the situation for some time. And instead of shouting, opt for listening rather than talking. Extreme emotions fetch unnecessary attention, distract others, and disrupt the overall harmony of the workplace.
Negative emotions are bound to happen; however learning to manage our emotions in a constructive, professional way is the key to avoid many unpleasant situations at the workplace.
“Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along” – Paramahansa Yogananda