Tools and Strategies to Manage Your Emotions at Work

Are You Taking it Personally?

By Laurie Friedman Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Business Consulting | March 18, 2018

It's easy. As a leader or as a follower we sometimes take words others say personally. This is natural but not good if the feelings get in the way of positive relationships at work. When words are taken personally, people react emotionally. Emotional reactions at work can cause workplace drama, disengagement, decreased productivity, and decreased teamwork and collaboration. The research data is compelling, “The average employee spends 2 hours and 26 minutes per day in drama and emotional waste” (1)

The moment your emotions are triggered at work you are not your best self either as a leader, colleague or teammate. When we become emotionally charged we allow negative thoughts and feelings to drive our behavior and we lose our compassion. Examples of emotional reactions include: yelling, eye rolling, defending, sarcasm, and disengagement. I am sure you can think of more examples!

Imagine you are in a meeting; and another team member interrupts you, disagrees with you or - worst yet - challenges you. Do you a) shut down; b) feel the person is doing it deliberately and defend yourself by getting angry, loud or something akin to any of these responses; or c) take a breath and not respond?

If your answer is “c,” you may not need the QTIP; for everyone else, the QTIP serves as a reminder not to take it personally. Q: Quit. T: Taking. I: It. P: Personally. It's natural to feel a sting when someone interrupts you if they do it in a way that seems rude or disrespectful. What is not compassionate is reacting with your emotions.

The QTIP provides an immediate tool to remind you to Quit Taking It Personally. Yes, a Q-tip®: The everyday, ear-cleaning, wax-remover cotton swab also represents a tool of choice to prevent emotionally charged leadership or reactions.

Seriously! Go to the store and buy as many Q-tips® as you can fit in your closet and take out a few. Hold them in your hand and repeat after me: Quit Taking It Personally. Most leaders discover that the QTIP principle is an effective acronym to help remain emotionally disciplined in the workplace. The solution is to separate YOUR feelings from the issue and to recognize when you are leading with your emotions. Stop and ask yourself “am I taking this personally?” If yes, Quit Taking It Personally. Workplaces are filled with people who are holding grudges, carrying wounds and believing their negative thoughts which lead to a lack of compassion, and most importantly to a disengaged workforce. Emotional drama at work can be stopped. First, quit taking it personally.

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