Balance Emotions at Work

When I was the Supply Base Manager there was a period when we were dealing with steel and shipping surcharges. Every month I had to reconcile the surcharges from my key suppliers. It was a pain to do, and I hated it. Nothing like having to report on cost increases when you are evaluated on cost reduction.

I found myself gripping and complaining every time I was running the reports. I would be in a foul mood for several days getting it done. People started avoiding me at the end of the month because I was awful to be around. This task made me miserable, and I shared it with those around me.

One month I was grumpy as I worked on the data and made a comment about how I hate doing this. The guy sitting next to me responded with “I know, you say that every month”. Well, that was a wake-up call. I didn’t realize how much I was gripping about it or the impact it was having until Lee commented.

I was typically upbeat and positive while at work, easy to work with and highly collaborative until it was surcharge reporting time. Then I was short tempered, couldn’t be bothered and whiny. It was bleeding out to those around me, several of whom also had to do these reports.

It was important for me to find a way to balance out my frustration with a tedious task with the mental health of myself and those around me. Who wants to work with someone who is collaborative one day and mad at the world the next? No one. So, I did a reality check of my attitudes and realized I was letting one monthly task ruin my day / week. It wasn’t so horrible that I should make it ruin my work relationships. I checked my attitude and remembered that complaining for two days a month wasn’t changing anything and was, in reality, hurting me.

Here are a few of my favorite tips for creating balance in your approach to work and co-workers.

  1. Recognize your mood. How are you feeling today? Are you feeling positive or negative towards your work today? Are you wearing your moods on your face or in your tone of voice all day? Our moods spill over to the people around us, even when they aren’t the ones responsible for the mood.
  2. Identify the source. If you are frustrated, where is it coming from? If you are excited and happy about what’s happening, what specifically is driving that emotion? As you identify where your mood is coming from you can start to separate your emotions for the event from the people not involved.
  3. Fix what you can. If you are swinging from upbeat to despair, look at what is bringing you down. What can you do to address those situations? Can you delegate the work? Can you have a crucial conversation with a problem person? Can you change how you think about the situation? Identify the things you control and act on what you can. Learn to let go of the things you can’t fix.

How you show up at work has a huge impact on whether you will succeed and move up. If you can’t balance out your emotions causing the people around you to deal with the ups and downs you will get the reputation of being too emotional and hard to work with. This will hold you back, particularly for women in STEM.

Finding a balance that allows you to be you and easy to work with is a key to success.

See more tips on my Tuesday Tip video on YouTube at


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