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More Great Days

4 Emotions to Hone In On for Even More Great Days

In a recent post, we talked about three really common emotions that can prevent us from having great days at work. The three we covered in that blog - hangry, unfocused, and anxious - are ones we might be willing to talk about or even joke about among our colleagues. But they’re not the only emotions that get in the way of co-creating good days.

With further reflection four more emotions come quickly to mind. These next four are fairly common, but perhaps ones we talk about less freely in the hallways, and maybe only share with our closest friends or colleagues. These emotions, unfortunately, still have the potential to prevent us from having a great day, and yet, fortunately, they also have the potential to be managed with a little self-awareness and a little self-management.


1. Woe is Me

upset-young-attractive-caucasian-girl-dressed-pulloverThis is a feeling of self-pity. It’s the “everyone else is getting a raise and I’m not” or “everyone else is having fun and I’m not” or “that person has it better than me” kind of pity party. This is problematic because a self-preserving pity party attitude prevents us from making decisions that are for the greater good.

  • How to recognize it? The words you’re saying inside your head might include examples like ‘everyone else’ and ‘no one but me’ and ‘I’m the only’. You start to adopt a defensive posture. You have thoughts about self-preservation instead of how you could help others.
  • What to do about it? Name three things for which you are grateful. Name three things or people in your life that make a positive difference for you. Name three things that you can see around you that are positive, uplifting, or deserving of gratitude and not pity. For example, “I have a job that gives me flexible hours; I have an adjustable work-desk; and I have a roof over my head.” Focusing on gratitude can lift you out of self-pity.


2. Failing

stressed-man-with-laptop-officeThis is when the self-talk in your head is telling you that you’re a failure. It’s telling you that you’re a loser or somehow unworthy or “less-than”. A feeling of failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and can have a snowball effect resulting in an avalanche of failures on a person who is normally very successful.


  • How to recognize it? Listen to the words in your head and the stories you are telling others. Are you using words like “I’m a failure” or “I’m an idiot”? Are you saying sentences like, “I’m stupid” or “I’m dumb” or “I will never get this”?
  • What to do about it? When you catch yourself saying words like that, even just inside your head, regain mastery over those and identify three things you do well, or three successes that you’ve had in your lifetime, if not the recent past. Perhaps you did make a significant mistake in the last 24 hours, but the 48 hours prior were successful. Do not let this moment or example define you.


3. Overwhelmed

profession-smile-female-office-coolThis is when the volume or the magnitude of work in front of you is so big that it practically paralyzes you, preventing you from moving forward. This is dangerous because if your overwhelm turns into anxiety, you won’t ever be able to move forward. Tackling a mountain seems so much more difficult than a mole hill and can prevent action and forward movement in our organizations.

  • How to recognize it? Overwhelm can take a couple of different forms. It might cause you to shrink into yourself. It might cause you to lose interest. It might cause you to be anxious or filled with panic. It might cause you to focus on things that are not important just so you can get something done. It might cause you to talk faster, move faster, or fret more.
  • What to do about it? Name the thing in front of you and start breaking it down into smaller pieces. While the adage “you eat an elephant one bite at a time” is kind of graphic and gross, the principle is valid: break the thing down into its smaller components until there is one that is bite-sized and small enough to be handled. Limiting your focus so you only see one thing at a time can help you get past being overwhelmed.


4. Apathetic

gerente-idoso-oprimido-pelo-trabalhoThis is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. It’s a feeling of general indifference. Whether you succeed or don’t, whether the thing gets done or not, whether it is superb or not, you just don’t care. Its cause can be any number of things (think annoying coworkers, frustrating customers, or stressful personal lives), but like being unfocused, apathy costs time and money. And apathy also causes bad customer service, costly mistakes, and other things that degrade the reputation of the organization.

  • How to recognize it? If you look at a finished work product and say, “Meh” and send it on anyway, you might be apathetic. If you realize you just published something with typos, and you don’t bother to fix it, you might be apathetic. If your shoulders slump a little, and your mind is almost eagerly awaiting the next thing to attract it anywhere but here, you might be apathetic.
  • What to do about it? Remember your mission. Remember how the work that you do aligns with your organization’s goal. Remember the value of what your organization stands for and the ways it makes things even better in the world. Working in an organization that is aligned with you purpose motive should help you avoid apathy. If you are not working in an organization that is aligned with your purpose motive, this is a great moment to seek out the alignment or seek out another employer whose purpose motive is more clearly aligned with yours.

So, there you have it, seven common emotions that can prevent us from being our best selves at work and could be harmful to our organizations, plus how to recognize them and tips for managing yourself through them. Give these

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About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day.

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