7 tips to deal with emotions at work

Wherever people work closely together, emotions can flare up. That’s normal. However, it is not always easy to deal with your own emotions or those of others. These 5 tips will help you prevent the situation from escalating and help you regain control. 

1. Make room for emotions 

What do you do when a colleague suddenly starts crying? We usually don’t know how to handle other people’s emotions, especially at work. We often tend to respond right away by offering advice or minimizing the problem. That’s only human, but it’s not the right response. It is much better to make room for what’s happening. Listen to what is going on and wait a moment. Let the person in question catch their breath. Confirm that you understand that it is difficult (e.g., “That sounds difficult”). After that, you can start to gently probe and ask your colleague some questions. Have they experienced something similar before? What was the solution then? Is that also possible now? 

2. Everyone is entitled to 1 meltdown per month 

Emotions in the workplace are perfectly normal. So just let them in. It’s good when people express themselves instead of bottling everything up. On average, one crying meltdown per month is perfectly normal – nothing to worry about. Even two is okay. Do you recognize a certain pattern? In that case, the cause may be addressed by ensuring that the colleague in question gains more self-confidence by, for example, a mentor, a buddy, a training course or other support. Or maybe the context has changed the colleague is no longer the right person in the right place. 

3. Make a list of pros and cons 

Is something bothering you? Write down a list of everything that is making you feel stressed or unhappy. Then write down something positive next to each point, such as things that are currently going well. That helps to put everything into perspective. You are probably feeling a lot better already. Finally, name one step you can take to improve the situation. That will be your action point and your way to solve this. 

4. Write down worrying thoughts 

Take that same list and note point by point what you can do about the negative items. Then schedule these activities in your calendar. By putting everyting on paper, you can literally get your worried thoughts out of your head. When you worry, it means that your mind does not want you to forget something, so you keep coming back to it. By putting it on paper and then getting to work on it, you take the anxiety out of your head. It’s as simple as that. 

5. Finish the week off with a “crap session” 

We don’t like to look at the negative aspects of our life. Ideally, we would like everything to be positive all the time. However, you cannot have positive emotions if you do not allow space for the negative ones too. There are two sides to every coin. To make room for the negative, you can end the week with a 15-minute crap session. Discard anything negative (by noting it down, for instance) and then finish the week. The following Monday, you can then use the first 15 minutes of your working day to prepare your schedule. What do you want to start with? What will you focus on? What will you avoid? This way, you also create space in your head, and you do not feel that continuous pressure and urgency. 

6. Communicate openly and inviting 

Do you know what you are worth and what you want? Then talk about it in such a way that people naturally grant it to you. Don’t wait obsequiously until it’s your moment. Seize the moment! But don’t claim this position in a dominant manner either. Somewhere in between is perfect. Try to find a neutral, inviting attitude. You will notice that this way of communicating attracts people who will help you to get closer to achieving your goal. 

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

The problem today is that we take ourselves too seriously. This is reinforced by the illusion of perfection created by (social) media. The reality?  Life is more doom and gloom than celebration. The trick is to celebrate during the doom and gloom. Is something not working? Think of it as a monopoly game: go back to start and try again. Does this approach work? Make it a ritual. It doesn’t work? Try something different. And embrace the process. Because in the end it is the process that matters, not the result. 

A healthy work/life balance? 3 pitfalls and 1 golden tip

It is perhaps the greatest challenge for working people: maintaining the balance between professional and private life. To get and keep this balance healthy, it is important to be aware of the pitfalls. And there are many. In this blog, we will discuss the three most important ones. We also give another golden tip to help you determine for yourself whether you are still OK.  

Pitfall 1: being overwhelmed because of lack of structure 

We are inundated daily with information, tasks, and other people’s expectations. There is often a lack of habits, structure, planning, and communication. Consequence: things go wrong. Because everyone walks around with different expectations. And if no clear agreements are made within a solid structure, this can be a recipe for disaster. So, make sure there is enough structure and planning so that misunderstandings (and the consequences of these) do not stand a chance. 

Pitfall 2: Staying in your comfort zone for too long 

Staying in your comfort zone is human. It gives you the illusion of peace and control. But if you stay there too long, everything becomes boring and predictable. You may start projecting this feeling onto other aspects of your life, such as your relationship. So don’t make it too easy for yourself. And regularly take yourself out of your comfort zone by doing something less familiar, for example. Compare it to juggling: dropping the ball every now and then is part of the process and keeps you on your toes. 

Pitfall 3: not enough self-care 

Self-care means paying sufficient attention to sleep, nutrition, exercise and leisure. The latter is especially important because it is your recovery time. Make sure you get a healthy mix of exercise and time to literally do nothing. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day ensures that substances associated with stress are reduced in the brain. But also just doing nothing and watching the grass grow is extremely beneficial. Nowadays, we don’t do this nearly often enough because we are all constantly focusing on our smart devices. However, it is an excellent way to clear your head. 

Top tip: check in with yourself 

How do you keep track of yourself to avoid slipping into an unhealthy work-life balance or an overly stressful work situation without noticing it? Simple: schedule fifteen minutes for yourself on the 1st day of each month. Start with the ideal quadrant exercise and see if you are still doing the right things to achieve the right level of satisfaction. 

Then check your stress level. A good way of doing this is by calculating your APGAR score. This is a number from 1 to 10 that is used in neonatology to assess the health of newborn babies.  

You can use an alternative Apgar test to determine whether you are experiencing toxic stress. You can keep track of your stress levels by answering the questions below. If you answer “yes” to more than 2 of the 5 questions, it is time to act. Try to figure out what it is that throws you off balance and talk about it with your supervisor. 

  1. Appearance: Is there a sudden change in your appearance, weight, sleeping pattern, or substance use? 
  1. Performance: Do you feel like you are suddenly over or underperforming? 
  1. Growth tension: Can and do you want to take in new information? 
  1. Affect control: Can you control your emotions and frustrations? 
  1. Relationships: Is there a sudden noticeable change in social interactions? 

Note: this test has no diagnostic value. It is only a tool to help you recognize in time that you are possibly overstepping your boundaries.

Jobcrafting: edit your job for more job satisfaction

Can you make your job more enjoyable? Yes, you can! We refer to this as jobcrafting. All you need is a pen and paper as well as a clear view of your tasks and responsibilities. Let’s get started! 

The ideal quadrant 

In order to get started with jobcrafting, you must first determine your ‘ideal quadrant’. 

Take a look at your job description and answer the following questions: 

  1. Which tasks do you enjoy? Or don’t enjoy? 
  1. What do you feel competent in? Or not competent? 

Plot these two parameters on a four-quadrant diagram. The quadrant containing both ‘tasks you like doing’ and ‘tasks in which you feel competent’ is your ideal quadrant. In an ideal world, 85% of your tasks would be in this one. Is this not the case? Then you can start jobcrafting. 

Time to negotiate! 

The least ideal quadrant is the combination of ‘not competent’ + ‘no desire’. These tasks cost you a lot of energy. If you have too many of them, it can lead to pathogenic stress. These tasks should be negotiated with your supervisor and teammates. Maybe a colleague can take over or you can swap tasks? Or are you simply no longer the right person in the right place? In any case, you should preferably have as few tasks as possible in this quadrant. 

Get out of your comfort zone 

There are usually many tasks in this quadrant, and this makes sense. You start your job based on several skills and things you can do well. The environment expects you to do keep on doing this, but it does not give you any energy. In other words, you are in your comfort zone and experience little challenge. This is a pitfall for stress-related problems. You can solve this by organising your work differently or adjusting the context. Change your workplace, for example. Or do a task together with a colleague. These do not have to be major changes. Play with it and experiment. 

Challenge yourself 

For the tasks in this quadrant, the solution is simple: take training courses, ask for explanation, train yourself, and, in other words, ensure that you do become competent for these tasks. It is a good rule to spend 10% of your working time developing new skills within the same responsibility. It’s a good way to stimulate job satisfaction. Knowing that people tend to hold on to fixed habits, it is good to encourage yourself to take up these 10% challenges. 

How do you keep your work exciting in the long run? 

In the long run, it is wise to keep looking for ways to make your job a little more challenging for yourself. Do take your family situation into account, however. And take things step by step. Your energy level should not be impacted. You can compare your energy to a bowl full of sweets. If you take out too many sweets, the bowl is empty. Make sure you always have some sweets left. This is a balancing act. Again, 90% versus 10% is a good ratio: 90% satisfaction/stability versus 10% splurge/challenge. This relationship can also be applied to life in general as well as to relationships. 

What is job satisfaction? And how do you achieve it?

Job satisfaction. It has become a catch-all term. And everyone interprets it differently. For some, it is euphoric happiness while for others, it is simply being content. There are also many theories about it. 

Job satisfaction: what is it? 

In short, job satisfaction can be reduced to 3 aspects:  

  1. Faith in yourself and what you are worth (depends on your talents and skills) 
  1. Faith in the environment and in the world (depends on the connection you feel) 
  1. Trust that you can mould the world in such a way that you are seen and recognised (strongly linked to the meaning that you experience in your job). 

If these three elements are sufficiently and evenly present, we can speak of job satisfaction.  

In all this, the context is also quite important. What kind of environment do you need to feel comfortable? And when are your talents revealed in the best light? 

Job satisfaction: a shared responsibility 

Today, too much of the responsibility for job satisfaction lies with the employees themselves. At the same time, it is an illusion that the employer controls the happiness of their employees. Conclusion: job satisfaction is a shared responsibility of employers and employees.  

This means that employers have a duty to create an environment in which every employee can reach their full potential and become the best version of themselves. What this environment looks like depends on your company’s strategy, market position and drivers. It is always possible to create the ideal conditions for job satisfaction. But it requires a certain amount of organisation and an open mind. Ideally, as a company, you should offer some kind of menu from which your employees can choose. 

It is up to the employees to find out for themselves what makes them happy at work (see also next point) and to pick from this menu. If flexibility in the form of remote working is an option, it goes without saying that employees should not abuse it. An extensive menu offering healthy choices is an excellent basis for a pleasant and dynamic working atmosphere.  

How can you discover what gives you job satisfaction? 

In order to know what can bring you job satisfaction, you must first determine for yourself where you want to go. What is your goal? This could be a particular job or a specific company you would like to work for. Or skills you would like to develop further. A goal gives you direction and focus and is a prerequisite for job satisfaction.  

When it comes to job satisfaction, we often look at the talents and skills that someone has and focus strongly on these insights. That in itself is not wrong. But it does not provide enough information if that goal is not clear. Only when your goal is clearly defined can you evaluate whether you are doing well and whether you are able to use your talents sufficiently. 

You can determine this goal for yourself by asking yourself the question: ‘What would I still like to do in my life?’ You must first think about it regardless of all the possible limitations (such as time, budget, and family situation). You must then make a distinction between what is feasible in the short term and what needs more time. Finally, you must feel what appeals to you the most. That is your starting point. 

What if your job just doesn’t allow for job satisfaction? 

It is perfectly possible that within the boundaries of your job, there are few or no elements that can provide job satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is still possible to experience job satisfaction in such a context. How? By considering job satisfaction as the sum of several factors. Maybe the job itself is not much fun, but still gives you the opportunity to make your personal dreams come true. Or maybe you don’t like the tasks you have to perform, but you work in a pleasant team with nice colleagues. Conclusion: job satisfaction is much broader than the job itself. By putting this into perspective, you can make it a lot easier to actually enjoy your job.