Use your emotions to your advantage at work

You shouldn't react emotionally at work, should you?

A frequent response from bosses that we receive in our coaching sessions is the following: “you were emotional or took it personally” combined with the request to react less emotionally and more professionally. Paradoxically, it's not actually about not showing any emotions. Because what they want to see instead are emotions, but positive ones: friendliness and politeness, enthusiasm and enjoyment of the work.

However, suppressing emotions and showing emotions that we don't have makes us ill. We know this from psychology.

Let's delve a little deeper and explain how we help our coaching clients to use their emotions to their advantage at work.

Our experience and attitude is that emotions absolutely belong in the workplace. For a healthy (working) life, it is incredibly important not to suppress your own emotions, but to use them consciously and constructively.

It's clear that you shouldn't freak out in a meeting or simply vent your anger. However, it is also an emotional reaction when we are happy and proud, motivated because we are successful, or sad and angry when something goes wrong or something unfair happens.

These emotions are signals for us, they have something to tell us and help us to perceive what is happening and act accordingly.

Emotions have different components:

- an affective component that tells us: is this good or bad for us

- a physiological component: there is a noticeable reaction in the chest or stomach or somewhere else in the body

- and also a thought: in negative situations at work, often “I can't rely on others, I'm disappointed, frustrated or bored, I'm dealing with the wrong things because things are in my way that are completely unnecessary.”

- and finally a behavioral component, i.e. what I do in response to the emotion, for example seeking a conversation or taking a coffee break with a good colleague to regain clarity and reduce the reaction

When we feel emotions, it is important that we allow and acknowledge them as a signal and not as something to be avoided.

We know from psychology that it is not healthy to suppress emotions. If we try to portray neutrality, friendliness and a good mood on the outside when we don't feel it on the inside, it doesn't fit and this has long-term consequences for our health and mood. Frustration runs high and motivation plummets.

What we have learned from our coaching sessions is that good contact with your own emotions is directly important for leading a fulfilled, happy life. One in which you are motivated and feel a sense of purpose in your own work. Feeling that what you do is important, feeling that you are in the right place, enjoying what you do, making a difference, feeling success and progress.

What do we mean by good contact with your own emotions? Good contact means being aware of your own emotions, giving them space and allowing them. It doesn't mean that you get loud or freak out in conversations, but that you can say “Ok wow, that disappoints me. I would have liked more or my expectation of this meeting was XY. It wasn't fulfilled.”. That you feel: what is the reason why I am disappointed or angry right now, what need has just been violated here, what expectation or attitude that is important to me for my job and my motivation, and what do we do now? Our negative emotions show us that something is still missing - and this is usually essential.

Under no circumstances should emotions simply be swallowed. We miss out on opportunities to create something new and good for ourselves and our environment.

Emotions are indicators, they have something to tell us and signal something specific. Just like physical sensations do when we break a leg. The leg hurts when we put weight on it - it says “something special is going on here, don't move too much because that would be dangerous”. In the same way, the emotion tells us: “there's something wrong, that wasn't okay” or “this is something nice” when we are happy.

Emotions help us to perceive more clearly and to recognize what is happening: whether it is good or bad for us, beautiful or ugly, sad or full of joy.

Our recommendation in professional life is not to permanently accept situations that trigger negative emotions. Not to suppress or reject emotions, but to proactively use your own emotions and incorporate them to help you decide how you want to behave.

If you are constantly experiencing negative emotions at work, then this is an opportunity to critically reflect on your own situation and consider what impact this is having on you, on your mood and your basic energy, what it is robbing me of in terms of happiness and motivation. And then think about whether you want to keep it that way or whether you can control the situation so that it gets better. This can be a conversation in which you address things, it can be a change of job, it can be a change of activity in the same job or new colleagues. Either you manage to change the situation for yourself or you draw the consequences from it and withdraw from the situation completely if necessary.

In our coaching sessions, we talk to clients about exactly these situations and help them to find a way to deal with their emotions and make decisions. If they decide to change jobs, we accompany them through the change process so that they have a support system that carries them and helps them, especially in such an exciting and thrilling time that requires a lot of courage and strength.


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