Though common wisdom suggests we should check our emotions at the door when we head to work, our feelings don’t go on vacation just because we’re on the job. Despite our best efforts, most of us have experienced a flash of anger or a burst of tears at work, either due to job stress or events at home. Crying in front of co-workers or storming out of a meeting can be embarrassing for employees, but such events also present an uncomfortable challenge for managers. How should you respond to an employee’s temper in a status meeting, or another employee’s tears when they receive constructive criticism?
Instead of making your work a no-fly zone for feelings, try viewing your employees’ emotions as a form of communication that provides insight into your staff’s state of mind. Left unchecked, emotions can derail a worker’s productivity, and can even spread to other employees. Laughter is contagious, as the saying goes, but so is resentment. And while we typically associate workplace disruption with negative emotions like anger and sadness, even emotions that appear to be neutral, such as boredom, or positive, like enthusiasm, can prove problematic when they distract from work or hamper communication and innovation among team members.
As a leader, you can positively model emotions in the workplace. For example, you can choose to remain calm when expressing frustration, or demonstrate methods for staying engaged during slow days. While emotions can prove to be a powerful distraction in the workplace, learning how to effectively read and respond to your employee’s varied feelings can provide fresh insight into your team’s dynamics.
Download our FREE Managing Employee Emotions Guide to learn several strategies for recognizing and responding to employees in a range of emotional states, from the angry employee to the overly enthusiastic team member.
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