We care and take pride in what we do. As a result, events, situations and conversations can have a real emotional impact on us.
Negative emotions expressed as fear, anger, stress, hostility and guilt can rub off on other colleagues, and also have a powerful impact on our personal reputations.
There is scientific confirmation that women most often express their emotions in the workplace by crying while men lash out and show anger.
Regardless of gender, we certainly don’t want to be viewed as the crying woman or man who threw the stapler when something didn’t go our way.
It’s also not realistic to suppress all emotion – that inhibits us and creates perceptions of being a machine. In general, we generally want to be known as the man or woman who can handle stress, pressure and emotions while being authentic and human.
Sure, this is easier said than done, and striving for absolute perfection might not be realistic. Being aware of our triggers, the impact our emotions have on others, and the perceptions that we create are critical to not only keeping our emotions in check but to manage our personal reputations.
There are four tips that I offer to my personal branding clients and use myself bout managing emotions to manage your personal brand.
- In a frustrating or emotional situation, keep your composure and self-control. Breathe, don’t respond too quickly or off the cuff, identify the trigger or reason that you are growing in emotion, and speak slowly. If you need a moment to think the situation through, don’t be afraid to say it. “I am finding myself getting angry. I would love a moment to pause and think this through so that I respond appropriately.
- If you need to vent, ask for a human moment. Issues in the workplace can be frustrating. When you approach your leader or colleague with a problem, they want to help you solve it; however, that may not be what you are looking for. You may just want to come in and vent. If you don’t state this intent up front, you may leave the impression of being a complainer. One operations leader set the “five-minute rule.” Anyone can come into her office and vent for five minutes. After that, they have to move into constructive problem solving mode. She said that most people stop after three minutes.
- Catch yourself thinking in negative allusions. Negative allusions are when you hear the negatives in a conversation, internalize it and stop hearing the positives. Imagine a performance evaluation that is 99% positive and your manager offers one constructive point. It is walking away only hearing the negative point, making that point big and dramatic and in turn, undermining the confidence in your value. We all find ourselves in this situation every once in a while. Go to a member of your personal board of directors that you identified in the networking portion of this series, and talk it through, get relief and diffuse the negative allusion before it taints your reputation.
- Don’t get defensive, bring alternatives. Recently, one marketing leader went to a business review knowing that he did not achieve his lead generation targets. He made excuses for missing the targets, “We didn’t have new content for the web site. We couldn’t get push emails out the door. And we got product information late.” By getting defensive, the conversation got emotional and combative.
There are times that goals get missed and mistakes are even made. State the facts and identify an alternative or countermeasure to address the gap. “We missed our goals this month for lead generation for several reasons. We have analyzed the issue and are taking these three actions over the next month to address.”
There’s no doubt that stressful business situations will arise – it is all in how we handle and manage through them.