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1.4 Model workplace behaviours that demonstrate


management of emotions
Management of emotions
It is important for everybody in the workplace, regardless of their position, to
try to manage their emotions in order to retain a professional environment.
This is not always easy or achievable for some people and as human beings,
emotional responses to adverse or diverse situations are natural reactions.
However, as managers and leaders, you have to model workplace behaviours
that demonstrate management of emotions because you set the tone and the
standard for the behaviour of the rest of your team and/or organisation.
Not only must you set the standard on which the rest of the organisation
models its own behaviour, but you will also have to deal with the consequences
of inappropriate emotional responses and behaviours from your subordinates
and also possibly complaints from customers or clients exhibiting heightened
emotions. If you are unable to manage your emotions in these scenarios you
will exacerbate the situation. Learning to control your emotions by detaching
yourself from the issue and not taking it personally, rather than just concealing
your emotions, is the goal; by remaining impartial and indifferent to the situation
you will be in a much more objective position to deal with it effectively and fairly.
This is obviously much easier to talk about than to put it into practice, but as a
manager, your team and others around you will look to you control a problem or
situation and to provide solutions in a rational and calm manner. If the manager
is panicking or loses control of their emotions, chances are it will cause panic
amongst the staff and/or the staff may lose respect for them which will have a
negative impact on their authority and ability to manage their team.
Dependent on the nature of the industry in which you work, the scale of the
emotions you will have to manage might range from frustration at a printer
that is out of order and has not been reported to fear for your own personal
safety or that of members of your team from either a customer or a member
of staff that has seriously lost their temper. You should consider the different
types of situation with which you may have to deal within your role and predict
the emotions you will need to suppress. As you become more experienced in
management and leadership and are exposed to more emotional situations you
should expect to become desensitised to issues that would once have provoked
a personal emotional response from you, and your personal emotional strength
will increase. This is not to say that you will lose your empathy and caring
qualities, rather you will become more pragmatic in your responses to emotional
situations.

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Model workplace behaviours


How you manage your emotions will be unique to you, but here are a few
generic tips for managing some of the common workplace emotions.
f Frustration/irritation:
deal with it immediately otherwise it might escalate into anger or
aggression
evaluate the situation what exactly is the issue?
find an opportunity what positives can the situation provide?
think of a previous incident that frustrated you that you were able to
resolve
if you cannot resolve the matter, move on to something else until you can
and try to forget about it
f Anxiety/nervousness worry is often a result of the fear of the unknown and
speculation about what might happen:
avoid being around other people that are worried about the same thing as
speculative conversations compound the concern and often other people
will have thought of more things to worry about than you
for instant anxiety and potential panic attacks use deep breathing
exercises and focus on repeatedly breathing in slowly for five seconds and
out for five seconds to steady your heart rate
look for ways to improve the situation make a list or brainstorm
possible opportunities to turn the worry into a positive learning
experience
keep a worry log write down your concerns and deal with each one or
each component of the worry separately and at a date and time that you
schedule yourself. By doing this you know you are going to deal with your
anxieties at a given time so can stop worrying until then
f Anger/aggression probably the worst and most dangerous emotion you
could display in the workplace that could lose you your job and almost
certainly result in disciplinary action:
know your emotional triggers if you find it difficult to control your
temper you will know what the warning signs are; look for them early
before its too late
stop what you are doing if you feel yourself getting angry, take a break
from what you are doing and go to a different place to calm down;
physically removing yourself from whatever is making you angry removes
part of the threat
use deep breathing techniques to focus your attention on something other
than the anger
imagine yourself when you are angry similar to when toddlers throw
themselves on the floor in a tantrum, adults behaviour and appearance
changes when they are angry; the voice is often raised or lowered, the
face reddens, gestures become animated and they generally appear
threatening. Its quite embarrassing and alienating. Would you want to
work with someone like that?

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f Dislike as much as we would like to, we cannot like everyone with whom we
work, however it is important to remain professional at all times:
be civil demonstrate respect for people at all times; it gives them no
reason to treat you any differently
be assertive if they do treat you unfavourably make them aware of it in a
courteous manner and explain that you will not tolerate it
f Disappointment/dissatisfaction there are many reasons you might suffer
disappointment in the workplace such as rejection for promotion or failing to
meet targets despite your best efforts. Learning from the experience is the
best way to deal with it:
put things into perspective life doesnt always go the way we want it
to; that is what makes it interesting. there is no such thing as a bad
experience
review your goal you may not need to change your target if you havent
reached it, you just might need to adjust it. use this experience as a
learning exercise
get back in the saddle dont sit dwelling on it for days; its happened so
understand why it has and put it to bed in order to move on to the next
target.

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Activity 1.4

1. Why is it important for managers and leaders to keep control of their


emotions in the workplace?

2. Identify as many scenarios within your role as a manager that you have
experienced or may experience in which you have had to manage your
emotions. Honestly evaluate your performance and state what you could
have done differently to improve the outcome.

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1.5 Use self-reflection and feedback from others to


improve development of own emotional intelligence
Developing emotional intelligence
So, you understand the concept of emotional intelligence and have analysed and
identified what causes your own personal emotional responses both in general
and in the workplace, attaching theoretical coping strategies to each stressor.
Unlike intellectual intelligence that tends to mature in late adolescence and
remain the same throughout our adult lives, emotional intelligence can be an
ability that is developed and improved indefinitely and with experience as you
become attuned to the behaviours of others. As with any skill, in order to improve
it you have to constantly evaluate your performance through self-reflection and
by obtaining feedback from others. The following exercises might help you to
develop your emotional intelligence.
Talk about your feelings
Describe matters with feelings, and put an emotional label on how you felt at
the time. For example, if you were stuck in a traffic jam and late for a meeting
you might have been using expletives and saying things such as, This is just my
luck, or Im never going to make it on time. You might even exhibit a change
in behaviour such as banging your head on the steering wheel or revving the
accelerator unnecessarily whilst stationary. You obviously know that none of
these remarks or behaviours are helpful and actually heighten the emotion you
are experiencing.
Instead, you should be trying to think in emotions and feelings, saying things such
as:
f I feel impatient
f I feel annoyed
f I feel worried (that this may have a negative impact on the outcome of the
meeting).
You may not find that you can do this automatically whilst in the middle of the
situation but this is what developing emotional intelligence is all about. As soon
as you start detaching yourself from situations and taking a step back to analyse
how you are feeling, you can start to manage your feelings and emotions more
rationally.
Take responsibility
When you look back at incidents where you have had to manage your emotions,
take responsibility for your own feelings. Regardless of what has happened,
nothing or nobody can be held accountable for your chosen response to a
stimulus. As discussed in earlier chapters, emotional intelligence is the ability to
respond thoughtfully, not react without thinking. For example, in the traffic jam
scenario you may have felt annoyed at yourself because you didnt leave yourself
sufficient time to get to the meeting. Where incidents cannot be helped, such as
the traffic jam having been caused by an accident, there is nothing anybody could
have done to prevent it. If the colleagues or clients at your meeting take exception
in the latter circumstances, you might question their emotional intelligence.

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Use feelings to make decisions


When making any decisions within the workplace, you should obviously consider
all the factual and tangible consequences, but you should also take into account
how it will make people feel.
You should ask:
f How will I feel if I do this?
f How will I feel if I dont?
f Why will I feel like this?
f What else could I do that would make me feel better/different?
f What will others feel?
f What could I do to make others feel better?
You should also ask for feedback from others involved or affected by your
decision. Considering their feelings and actively asking for their contribution
will make them feel valued and shows your respect for them as human beings
not just employees. It is these processes that help to build quality relationships
within the workplace between management and subordinates which
subsequently fosters loyalty and retention of quality members of staff.
Use feelings to set targets and objectives
Every organisation has its aims and objectives and it is the role of management
to ensure that these goals are met. The objectives should reflect the mission and
the ethos of the organisation which generally sets out the values and morality of
the company. Why not adopt the same approach to your own goals and targets?
You could ask:
f How do I want to feel when the target is reached?
f How do I want the members of my team to feel when they have reached the
target?
f How do they want to feel when the target is reached?
f How do they want to feel along the way?
f How do I want senior management to feel when the target is reached?
f What can I do to ensure these feelings are reached?
Attach feelings targets to your goals and ask for regular feedback from those
involved during the journey. For example, if making the employees feel valued is
one of the targets, you might decide in consultation with them that in order to do
this they want regular updates and communication on the progress of their work
throughout the project. This then gives you a metric by which to measure your
progress.
Use feelings to discuss and resolve incidents
When dealing with an incident or conflict in the workplace, either between you
and a colleague or members of your team, always ask all involved how the
incident made them feel. This may sound irrelevant but it is surprising how
personally some people take the most minor issue. For example, a flippant
comment to an administrative assistant about the printer running out of paper

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could ruin their day and they might even go home and worry about it, particularly
if it is a member of the management team that made the comment. The issue
may not come to light for a few more days until the administrative assistant
mentions it to a colleague and explains how it has affected him/her. The
manager may probably have forgotten about the printer running out of paper and
have no knowledge of the bad feeling they have caused. By having a conversation
with the administrative assistant and asking them how it made them feel allows
them to air their grievance and gives the manager the opportunity to understand
how their actions have adversely affected a colleague. It also enables the
manager to explain the lack of intent to harm the administrative assistants
feelings.

Self-reflection and feedback from others


As with all self-reflection, you have to be honest and open in order for it to be
of any value. Each time you are involved in a matter that requires the use of
emotional intelligence and you having to manage your emotions, try asking
yourself the following questions and recording your responses for future
comparison and evaluation.
Example incident
You return to the office after a meeting and enter reception. Your receptionist
tells you that she has forgotten to take down a telephone number for an
important potential client who is awaiting a call back from you, the manager.
There is another customer waiting in reception. You are angry but you roll your
eyes and make a joke to the customer that, You just cant get the staff, before
walking away without saying anything to the receptionist.
Self-reflection

Question Response
How did I feel at Angry, frustrated, worried.
the time?
Why did I feel like Angry because the potential client was worth a lot of
this? money to the organisation.
Frustrated because the receptionist should know better
and it is standard procedure when taking a call to take a
contact number.
Worried that the client might question the
professionalism of the organisation or me because I have
not called back.
What was my I tried to disguise my real feelings with an attempt at
emotional humour by embarrassing the receptionist in front of the
response? customer.
How did that affect It probably made the receptionist feel useless and
the situation? humiliated in front of a customer.
It did not resolve the matter.

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Question Response
How did it affect It made me look unprofessional in front of the customer.
me? It made me feel guilty and ashamed of myself for treating
the receptionist badly.
How did it affect It probably made the customer feel awkward and
others? damaged their opinion of me.
It upset the receptionist.
How could I Acknowledged the omission discreetly and politely and
have responded returned later to speak with the receptionist when the
differently? customer had gone, in order to salvage as much as
possible from the situation.
How do I feel now? Irritated with myself.
Why do I feel like Because I have upset a member of my staff, damaged my
this? reputation and quite possibly that of the company, and
still havent managed to call the potential client back.
What else do I I need to apologise to the receptionist and give her a
need to do to put it chance to explain.
right? I need to try and contact the potential client and explain
the reason for not calling back without blaming the
misunderstanding on the receptionist.
What do I need I need the receptionist to accept my apology.
from others to put
it right?
Feedback from the receptionist

Question Response
How did you feel Upset, angry, annoyed, embarrassed, worried.
at the time?
Why did you feel Upset, angry and annoyed at myself because it is a
like this? fundamental part of my job and I forgot to do it.
Upset, angry and annoyed at you because of the remark
you made to the customer and because you ignored me.
Embarrassed because the customer then tried to make
me feel better about my omission after you had gone.
Worried that there might be disciplinary repercussions.
What was my You were rude and humiliating.
emotional
response?
How did that It made it worse.
affect the
situation?

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How did it affect I was worried for the rest of the day which affected my
you? confidence to do my job. I was not as friendly on the
telephone because I was concerned that I would make
the same mistake again. I hid from you when you came
through reception later to go to another meeting.
How could I Spoken to me later or in private.
have responded
differently?
How could you Tried to find the number of the potential client as soon as
have responded I realised I hadnt taken it down.
differently?
How do you feel Scared of you.
now?
Why do you feel Because you didnt come back to talk to me.
like this?
What else do you To forgive me for the omission.
need from me to
put it right?
What do you need Apologise.
to do to put it
right?

You can see that the feedback from the receptionist is very similar to the feelings
of the manager. This reflects the fact that when emotions are not managed, they
affect those involved in very similar ways.
Seeking feedback on emotions management from colleagues and members
of your team not only helps to develop your emotional intelligence, but it also
encourages them to think in a similar way to develop their own.

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Activity 1.5

Identify an incident in the workplace in which you have tried to manage your
emotions but have not been totally successful. Complete a self-reflection and
where possible obtain feedback from others involved in the incident. If this
is not possible, imagine you are the other person involved and complete the
feedback.
Example incident:

Self-reflection

Question Response
How did I feel at the
time?

Why did I feel like this?

What was my emotional


response?

How did that affect the


situation?

How did it affect me?

How did it affect others?

How could I have


responded differently?

How do I feel now?

Why do I feel like this?

What do I need to do to
put it right?

What do I need from


others to put it right?

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Feedback from colleague

Question Response
How did you feel at the
time?

Why did you feel like


this?

What was my
emotional response?

How did that affect the


situation?

How did it affect you?

How could I have


responded differently?

How could you have


responded differently?

How do you feel now?

Why do you feel like


this?

What else do you need


from me to put it right?

What do you need to do


to put it right?

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