“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” ~ John Maxwell
All of us have experienced a wide range of emotions at work, both positive and negative. Unless we are totally out of control and become an embarrassment or a detriment to others, it is hard to imagine getting into trouble expressing positive feelings at work. Likely they will be viewed as beneficial by nearly everyone around us. It is the opposite emotion that give us problems. We have all experienced them. Negative emotions at work, that is. Someone who we think is less qualified, but ingratiates themselves to the boss, gets the promotion you worked so hard to earn. A co-worker takes credit for something that you did. The slackers on your team receive equal credit for a successful team project in which you did the majority of the work. After having spent countless hours on submitting a proposal, it gets rejected, or worse criticized. The scenarios that make us angry, frustrated, disappointed, fearful are endless and we have all felt them and gone through them. It’s not the situations themselves that make or break us, it’s how we respond to them. Successful people have found ways to not only cope with frustration, but use the lessons gained from it to move ahead.
Here are five ways emotional intelligence helps us work through those frustrations.
Keeps Us From Reacting Immediately
We feel before we think. When we act from our negative emotions too quickly this is a reaction and the outcomes are usually never good. When we give ourselves a few seconds to think about it first, this is no a response and we are now taking personal responsibility. We all know of people whose angry outburst have cost them dearly in terms of promotions, careers and generally held them back in life. Whenever we are having powerful emotions, we need to give ourselves time to think. It may mean we have to temporarily remove ourselves from a situation until we have had time and space to clearly think.
Naming How We Are Feeling
The simple act of being able to name how we are feeling takes away some of the energy that our emotions have over us. It gives us some distance from the emotion and allows us more clarity. It gives us a chance to step back and reflect upon the situation.
Share our Feelings With Others Who Will be Supportive But Objective
The worst thing to do is commiserate with others who are known to hold grievances and we know will support us in holding on to our negativity. After all, misery loves company. While it may feel good at the time, it isn’t productive and will keep us stuck in a vicious negative cycle. Find someone who is a great listener and who will be able to give an unbiased objective viewpoint of what happened. This is usually someone who has no stake in it one way or another. When sharing what happened, try to only give them the data, not your judgments.
Put Yourself in the Place of an Outside Observer
This is not easy to do, but try to look at the situation from someone on the outside who is looking in on the situation and has no stake in the outcome. Make an honest attempt to try and see things from the perspective of everyone involved. Suspend judgment if you can and come up with as many possible explanations as you can for what occurred. The most difficult part will be to try to come up with alternative explanations for the reasons that you tell yourself about those that have offended you. The tough question is, “What was my part in this; the positive and the negative.” There will be valuable learning in doing this.
Take a Long-Term Perspective
Ask yourself how much this will matter to you one year, five years or ten years from now. Look at your long-term goals and plans and see how this all fits in with where you want to be in the future. Is it a battle worth fighting, or will it serve you better for your future plans to let things go and move on? What will be the likely outcomes of the choices that you make from this point on and how will they help or hinder you in moving ahead in advancing your goals.