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  • Writer's pictureLaurence Paquette

Managing Emotional Triggers at Work: Strategies for Emotional Intelligence and Effective Communication

different emotions
different emotions

Emotions are an integral part of the human experience. They don’t vanish the moment we step into our workplaces. In fact, the professional environment often presents unique challenges that can trigger strong emotional responses. Whether it’s a conflict with colleagues, excessive workload pressure, unexpected feedback, or changes in the workplace, our emotional equilibrium can be easily disturbed. Personal issues from outside work can also spill over, impacting our emotional stability at work. The crucial question is: what do we do when we are emotionally triggered at work?

Recognize Your Triggers

The first step in managing emotions at work is to be aware of your triggers. Understanding what provokes a strong emotional response is key to preemptively addressing these situations. One effective method is to keep a journal. By tracking situations or interactions that consistently cause emotional upheaval, you can identify patterns and recognize your triggers before they escalate.

Develop Grounding Techniques

Having a set of go-to strategies to manage your emotions when triggered is essential. Before your emotions take control, it’s beneficial to practice techniques that help you stay grounded. This might include deep breathing exercises, visualizing a safe space, or other mindfulness practices.

For instance, I have a mental technique where I retreat to a “secret garden” in my mind whenever I feel overwhelmed. This visualization helps me feel safe and grounded, allowing me to take a deep breath and regain my composure. Finding a similar personal strategy can be incredibly effective.

Communicate Effectively

Once you’ve grounded yourself, the next step is to communicate your feelings effectively. It’s important not to suppress your emotions but rather to express them in a way that doesn’t place blame on others. Using “I” statements is a powerful tool in this regard. These statements allow you to convey your feelings without making the other person defensive.

For example:

  • Instead of saying “You never listen to me,” say “I feel unheard when my ideas are dismissed.”

  • Instead of saying “You always cut me off,” say “I feel frustrated when I’m interrupted during meetings.”

  • Instead of saying “You are too critical,” say “I feel discouraged when feedback is only negative.”

This approach helps keep the dialogue constructive and fosters a more empathetic response from your colleagues.

Set Boundaries

In addition to effective communication, setting boundaries is crucial. If certain situations or tasks consistently trigger your emotions, it’s important to recognize and avoid them when possible. Communicate your needs and limits to your colleagues or supervisors to help create a more supportive work environment.

Embrace Emotional Awareness

Overall, emotional triggers are natural, and everyone experiences them. By understanding your triggers, being emotionally aware, and using coping strategies and effective communication, you can manage your emotions better. This not only improves your own well-being but also contributes to a healthier, more empathetic workplace.

Remember, having emotions at work is not a sign of weakness. It’s a part of being human. Embrace your emotions, manage them constructively, and create a more positive and supportive professional environment for yourself and others.

By applying these strategies, you can turn emotional challenges at work into opportunities for personal growth and improved interpersonal relationships. Emotional intelligence and effective communication are key skills that benefit not just you, but your entire workplace.


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