emotions at work - Leslie Inc.

I’m An Emotional Wreck! 3 Ways To Master Your Emotions At Work

How do you deal when your job has made you an emotional wreck? Check out how I’ve taught my client how to stop simply putting out fires to using a bad job as a stepping stone for success.

I have a coaching client who hates his job. Let’s call him Ted. He’s a young professional and has been at his job for about two years now. Because he’s a young professional with limited experience, he must stay at his job while he explores other opportunities and determines a plan for his next career move. However, while he works actively on finding a way out, he feels that he’s still emotionally attached to his job, making him frustrated, anxious, and worried about the future.


Learning To Be “Care Less” – Addressing Real And Imagined Fears

We discussed the concept of “caring less”. Which means that while he continue to do his job to the best of his abilities, he must learn to emotionally detach himself from the daily drama and poor management happening around him. Some techniques include monitoring emotions and classifying fears, to accepting responsibility for things we can change and learning to accept situations we cannot change, and creating boundaries to identify job roles among colleagues.

I made sure to explain to him that “caring less” does not mean being “careless” like intentionally doing a bad job, disrespecting rules, and trying to sabotage the company. By caring less, we can focus on our tasks and choose to do our jobs without allowing ourselves to worry or become emotionally manipulated.

Easier said than done, right? I’m not saying that this is a simple process. Rather, the process of self mastery is a difficult one that requires much introspection and self discipline. We constantly have to monitor our emotions and work to understand the reasons why we feel the way we feel. I encouraged Ted to monitor his emotions throughout the day. When he feels emotionally charged, he can then write down the reasons why he is stressed, the fears that are associated with the stress, and determine if those fears are either logical or irrational fears. By separating logical from irrational fears, he can then throw out the irrational fears and then work actively to solve or address the logical fears.

By eliminating or addressing fears, Ted is taking his worries into his own hands by working actively to minimize his own work related stress one task at a time.

After which point, Ted can determine whether he can actually change his workplace conditions or simply accept the situations beyond his control. By taking responsibility in what he can control, he’s placing responsibility for situations or tasks out of his control on his colleagues and superiors – ultimately creating a boundary between Ted’s professional expectations and those of his colleagues.


Clarify Job Descriptions

Sometimes, this process can be as simple as meeting with a manager to discuss job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities. Other times, it takes active communication to gain understanding among colleagues. What I have learned from over burdened clients is that much of their workplace stress comes from taking on responsibilities outside of their job description or doing somebody else’s work, which then keeps them from doing their actual job. Learning to create boundaries and occasionally reassess them is vital to managing work related emotional engagement.

By asking his manager to further clarify his job role and responsibilities, he learned that he was taking on tasks and worrying about projects that were beyond his control. This revelation relieved much of his stress, but not all. Read on.

Ted is ready to leave his company and is actively finding employment elsewhere. I made sure he understood that while he may have his sights on a new job, he must be completely focused on his job during working hours. While focusing on his job and maintaining excellent performance, he can positively discuss his job during interviews without worrying about lying or getting bad reviews for his work once he does move on. Once more, focus requires self mastery in managing emotions while detaching oneself from the drama that happens in the workplace.


See The Stepping Stone, Not The Tomb Stone

Another technique is to see the job as a stepping stone, rather than a tomb stone. Once Ted began seeing his job as a means to promotion elsewhere, he began finding ways to improve his knowledge, performance, and abilities in order to prove himself on his resume. Because he’s a young professional, he has a lot to prove within a short period of time. Turning emotional attention from dealing with drama to finding positive solutions, Ted is able to focus less on putting out fires and more on building his career. Furthermore, when interviewers ask Ted about the types of problems he faced, he will be able to cite actual examples and effectively provide ways he managed to work through them.

By applying these techniques, Ted is finding himself tolerating his job much more. Tipping the emotional scales from useless worry to productive thought patterns and actions, he’s better able to see his life on a greater scale and how this stepping stone of a job plays into his entire career.

It is easy to get emotionally lost within the drama and difficulties that take place at work. Some professionals allow those issues to emotionally define them and they find themselves turning into people they hate. By understanding the root causes of negative emotions and positively responding to them, people like Ted can move through their career with greater ease.



Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

Leslie Juvin-Acker

Leslie Juvin-Acker is Chief Happiness Officer of Leslie Inc. Since 2008, she has been coaching executives and business leaders all over the world. She is an expert in emotional intelligence and helps professionals tap into their own imagination to find solutions for personal and professional happiness.

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  • jrandom42

    Simple, you give the company the 8 hour of work they’re paying you for, and then you check out at the end of the work day. Nothing more, nothing less. You do what you can, you learn what you can, and on that last day, you pack it up with all your other stuff and take it with you. In the meantime, you use your free time to learn what you want, look for new opportunities, and bring up despair.com for some comic relief.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm
  • jrandom42

    One thing is to detach yourself emotionally from the job, as the artilce states. You give them the effort of 8 hours of work and no more. When you leave at the end of the day, you leave all of the job behind. Compartmentalize it if necessary. Realize that his boss can’t eat him or toss him off a cliff, only let him go. Once you can do that, the stress level decreases dramatically.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:24 am
  • jrandom42

    Just get him talking about snowboarding or the 2018 Olympics. 🙂

    January 19, 2011 at 7:47 am
  • Mary Jo

    Thanks for the great post. It is so helpful.

    What advise would you give for interacting with colleges at work? I was overly happy and people pleasing at work until recently. I don’t feel like being someone i’m not.

    I do not feel appreciated, management is poor, and the position I’m in is not what it suppose to be. I see the situation i’m in as something I cannot change and I accept that. I am setting boundaries that I need but the quick shift in character is causing some alarms with my teammates.

    I don’t want to be overly happy when I’m not happy at all. I don’t think airing my feelings is going to help as I have and it hasn’t gotten me much results.

    Like your post, I see this as a growth/stepping stone but I do not want to go back to this artificial, energy draining personality. Thoughts?

    April 2, 2011 at 9:26 pm

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