Negative Emotions At Work? You’re Not The Only One : Emotional Negativity

Negative Emotions at Work

Negative Emotions

Negative Emotions

Have you cried in the restroom or during a meeting with your boss? How about clumsily try to comfort a weeping coworker? Or maybe, you’ve been the hapless victim or a wretched culprit of eruptive, sullenly anger? If you’re nodding yes, it’s not surprising. Despite the corporate expectation to leave behind all earthly emotions at the door, temper flares and tears continue to simmer everywhere in the workplace. Emotions are capable of exerting an amazingly powerful force on human behavior.

Yet, humans are capable of transcending them to live in a natural, calm and relaxed state at all times. When we’re calm and relaxed, we’re more willing to be flexible, collaborative, and open to new challenges at workplace. Negative thoughts and feelings that can get in the way of productivity, become easier to overcome. While depression, contempt, or stress can affect the quality of work and how we interact with coworkers. Lack of positive thoughts and feelings affect the emotional well-being of an employee, thus increasing the predictability of workplace deviance, thereby, impeding productivity and the company’s success.

It could be due to work overload, lack of rewards or support, disputes with coworkers or even domestic problems and money issues, leaving them feeling anxious or depressed or sometimes even cynical. Whether we want to admit it or not, emotions impact our behavior. Positive or negative emotions have the power to influence our –

  • Cognitive performance
  • Behavior
  • Affective response
  • Satisfaction, and
  • Relationships

As per a Steelcase study of well-being in workplace, it was found that to cultivate a workforce of creative, collaborative and productive employees, organizations should take a more holistic approach towards well-being, by understanding their cognitive and emotional needs too. It’s when people who live in environments where positive emotions are promoted that they’re able give their best. Below are a few common negative emotions that people feel at work, along with a plan on how to overcome such obstructive feelings to become happier, successful and contented at workplace.


Emotional Negativity

ANXIOUS: Anxiety, a natural alarm system can turn into a chronic mindset in no time. It can deaden joy and choke creativity. Internal factors such as self-doubts, high self-expectations, fear of failure and wanting control of the future can alleviate unskillful emotions such as anxiety, anger or fear at workplace.

Simplify your work schedule. Break down tasks into shorter time increments, and re-evaluate on an hourly basis on the progress made. It won’t help axe anxiety, but can definitely decrease it in the long run. If you have too many ideas, schedules, dates and plans, causing a commotion in your head, record all of them in a notebook or your smartphone, so that you don’t panic every time you need to recall a certain meeting time or idea.

Learn to relax. Practice deep breathing until the chest feels tight and the mind has stopped racing. Brisk 10-15 min walks can also help. Find a quiet, secluded spot and do several sets of jumping jacks. This will help release endorphins which will calm the body and mind.

Practice meditation. It can be a little intimidating to learn to meditate. But you can do it for five minutes or less. Learn the Three-Breaths meditation that will help you achieve a relaxed and calm state of mind.


ANGRY: Anger is simply a surface emotion, which usually covers complicated feelings like frustration or fear. In today’s corporate culture, a number of organizational dynamics such as customer interaction, deadline and negative peer relationship trigger stress in employees. High levels of stress perpetuate anger. It’s important to manage anger at workplace.

Distance yourself from primary sources of anger that set your emotional trigger on. It could be a nutty colleague that drives you crazy or a tricky situation that compels you to react impulsively. Get up and go for a walk or, do something that will distract you for a moment.

Take some deep breaths and identify what is really going on. Once you’ve calmed yourself down, you’ll be in a much better position to fix the delicate situation. If it’s a dispute with a colleague, make it a goal to articulate your reasoning over it, and not the win. Keep the conversation positive on a collaborative path by diffusing your inner hulk.

Get sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause negative moods, including depression and anxiety. It can become impossible to take calm, measured, and responsible choices when you don’t get sufficient sleep.


Work Emotions

ENVY: Envy is a wasted emotion. It can have a detrimental effect. It is a powerful combination of feeling deprived of something that we want and the powerlessness to change the situation. Moreover, it can be result into a toxic work environment. It is impossible to stay focused on work, with such strong emotions churning inside, unless they are dealt with.

Be Grateful. We begin to envy others when we start taking our blessing for granted. Nobody has it all. Stop comparing the worst of what you have with the best of others. Start spending time with grateful people who find contentment in every bit of their lives. Remember, gratitude is a highly contagious feeling. Soon, others will desire what you have.

Avoid people who value wrong things in life. If you spend time with people who value extravagant cars, salaries and vacations, you’re naturally going to fall into the inevitable trap of desiring more and wanting what they have and living a frustrated life. There are far more important things in life to pursue such as, joy, fulfillments and happiness. You can also consider their success in life as a motivation for yourself.

Be gracious and celebrate everyone’s success. Be gracious and rejoice in the fortune of others. Once you learn to experience happiness in others’ joy and success, you’ll notice how easy it is to overcome envy.


FRUSTRATED: Frustration can easily emerge from unfulfilling work. Reassess your Plan and start exercising patience. Stop worrying about the amount of work and efforts you’re investing. Let go of what you’re expecting, and start working on a better plan that will help you achieve your goal in the best possible way.

Learn what triggers frustration and avoid it for some time until it stops bothering you. Take some deep breath until you feel calmer and in control of your frustration or anger.

Stop victimizing yourself. By perceiving yourself as a victim, you’re only preventing yourself from responding more reasonably to the situation. If you’re feeling worthless, you need to change your perspective and behavior and start appreciating what the world has to offer.


REJECTED: Rejection is an unfortunate part of life – personal and professional. Once we feel rejected, we can easily fall into the habit of blaming and behaving in a hostile manner towards others to avoid further rejection.

Learn to let go. If it’s coming from someone other than your friends and family, then it’s not worth clouding your emotions and judgment for. Move on. Learn to acknowledge your feelings such as sadness, frustration and betrayal, yet till remain approachable and friendly at the same time.

Be more objective about it. What did you do that caused the situation? Did it ostensibly come out of nowhere? Or, is it because the person who rejected you, has a completely different perspective on the ongoing issue? If it’s a mentor or a close friend whose opinion you true and value, find out by asking them what just happened.


STRESS: Stress is one of the biggest causes of health problems in our lives. It can cause heart diseases, anxiety attacks, depression, weight problems, immune diseases and more. For a working person, weeklong meditation retreats, counselling sessions and mini-vacations can be a little difficult. Most of the stress in our lives is unnecessary and can be cut out before it starts taking a toll on a beautiful day.

Workout. A good bout of exertion can be the perfect anti-dote to a stressful day filled with demanding deadlines. Run for 40 minutes, lift a few weights. You’ll instantly feel better.

Make a list of top stressors. Take some time out and make a list of what stresses you while you’re at work. Is it people, that certain tasks or things that cause stress? See which of these from the list can be eliminated, and just weed them out.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t allow yourself to pile up stuff that will eventually stress you out. We all have commitments, starting with work, family, civic, hobbies and more adding to the visual clutter of what we call a disorganized life. Similarly, don’t rush yourself through life. Learn to take things slow. You can only do this by simplifying your to-do list down to a few essential tasks, so that you can enjoy work and life without getting stressed.

Mediate for a while. Learn to let go. Don’t try to control situations and people around you. The only thing that we can control is ourselves. Why not just learn to let go, and not increase anxiety in life?

Have some green tea. Zen Buddhist monks drink green tea to remain calm and alert during long hours of meditation. A few cups of green tea, made with a blend of herbs, throughout the day can help relieve stress naturally from the body and the mind. It is very important to drift away from negative emotions that can cause stress and absenteeism at workplace.

By kissing goodbye to negative emotions, like anger, anxiety and stress, one can embrace amiability and cheerfulness in a wonderful way, and bring even more happiness at workplace. A calm, contented and relaxed workforce can have profound organizational and social repercussions. Positive emotions are contagious and can help spiral towards optimal functioning.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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