You know those mornings when you wake up on the wrong foot? You feel like nothing good can happen to you that day, you’re frustrated and in a bad mood. In reality, that morning problem is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we believe that the day will be an uphill struggle, so it will be. Emotions have a lot of power when it comes to defining our lives and, of course, our work. That’s why, although it is not a magic formula, emotional regulation is an ally to focus on those feelings that help us to make everything go better, even if we get up on the wrong foot.
What will I read about in this article?
What is emotional regulation?
Emotions can have a big impact on the way we work. Positive ones, such as joy and motivation, can improve our performance and our ability to solve problems. On the other hand, negative emotions generate stress and anxiety, so they can be counterproductive and decrease our effectiveness at work.
It‘s essential to bear in mind that they not only affect our individual performance, but also the dynamics of the team and the working environment in general. Therefore, it is crucial to learn to recognise and manage our emotions in order to maintain an emotional balance at work.
“It is essential to learn to recognise and manage our emotions in order to maintain an emotional balance at work”.
Emotional regulation is therefore the ability to manage emotions to our advantage. It ranges from rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety or hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, to focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm. It does not mean suppressing or avoiding emotions. Rather, it means trying to develop the emotional regulation skills to influence the emotions you feel and how you express them.
The importance of emotional regulation in organisations
Managing emotional well-being and discomfort is, or should be, an important aspect of organisational culture. After all, we’re talking about aspects such as whether we feel satisfied with life and our professional and personal development, whether we feel self-fulfilled or whether we believe that what we do is meaningful to us.
In contrast, emotional distress tends to be measured by things like low life satisfaction, low enthusiasm and even depression. So explains a study reported in Oxford Review, which focuses on how learning emotional regulation positively impacts our work.
Our emotions, what we feel, change from one moment to the next. It all depends on the situations we face throughout the day. We don’t feel the same way when we’re congratulated for a job well done as we do when we have to claim a report that is two days late. This means that our state of mind is always ready to change. Knowing how to identify and manage these feelings correctly will determine how we express them.
Emotional regulation and emotional intelligence are essential for resolving conflicts and building healthy relationships. A leader’s emotional state influences the perception and behaviour of employees. This makes understanding emotional regulation crucial for corporate well-being.
“Emotional regulation and emotional intelligence are essential for resolving conflicts and building healthy relationships”.
How employees manage their mental health
Employees commonly manage their mental health through the use of emotional regulation strategies, the most common of which are:
Refers to the ability to recognise negative emotions and gradually replace them with positive emotions. This allows people to see a situation from a different perspective and in a more positive light.
The ability to engage in positive cognitive reappraisal is strongly associated with emotional well-being, because it allows people to change their initial negative impression or perception of a situation to a positive one, which can lead to happier feelings and a more optimistic mindset.
It’s the practice of restricting or repressing emotions by reducing emotionally expressive behaviour in order to hide true emotions. Unlike young children, adults are expected to manage their emotions, especially anxiety and anger, in a socially acceptable way.
When work stress, burnout and lack of harmony at work tend to have a negative impact on an individual’s emotions, responses and decision-making. This is not only dangerous for the individual’s health, but also unhealthy for business success. Hiding anger because it is perceived as a negative emotion is an example of expressive suppression.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada, concluded that an employee’s level of well-being tends to predict the types of emotional regulation strategies they choose to use over time. If well-being is high, they’re more likely to use cognitive reappraisal strategies. In terms of distress, on the other hand, people are more likely to resort to expressive suppression strategies.
Training employees in the use of healthy emotion regulation strategies, such as reappraisal, can have a significant positive impact on their emotional health and reduce symptoms of distress such as depression that affect overall work performance.