How To (and not to) Deal with an Emotional Employee

As I wrote previously, every human emotion is valid. However, the story behind them might not be, and we always have the choice of how to respond to an emotion. If we want to master how to deal with others’ emotions, our own emotional mastery is the prerequisite.

Studies have shown that emotions like frustration, cynicism, enthusiasm, etc are as contagious as germs. I believe each human being acts like a tuning fork. Every emotion is like a wave, which when reaches others, either accentuates or dies down depending on whether the frequencies match or not.

When two people are emotionally reactive, even a small argument can quickly escalate into a fight. When we learn to master our own emotions, it gives us an opportunity to deal with any situation confidently. It will dampen any emotional waves and allows collaboration, even in the face of disagreement. We can strengthen our relationships with others, even in the most stressful and difficult situations.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. - Dale Carnegie

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. – Dale Carnegie

1. Learn to Notice Emotional Build Up
Emotions are like storms. Just as we can forecast most weather storms before they strike, we can always notice and predict “emotional” storms too. If an emotional outburst of an employee is a surprise, then there were some signs we missed.

Emotional reactions don’t come out of nowhere. Just like storms, they build up over time. There are always signs, physical and behavioural, which we can observe and watch out for. If we notice these signs, we can get an advance notice of emotional build-up in people.

For example – If we notice tightening of muscles and a red face, the person might be getting angry or frustrated. If we notice a trembling voice, sweating and defensive body language, someone might be feeling scared or anxious. If we notice smiles, laughter and a relaxed body language, the person might be happy about something in his/her life.

2. Act Early. Validate What You Notice
When we notice physical signs of emotional build up in others, we must act early and validate our assumptions. Obviously, we can’t read another’s mind so whatever we assume about another’s emotional state might or might not be true. So the most prudent way is to state our assumption as just that, and ask the other person for validation.

For example – If your colleague has been quiet and detached since a few days, you can approach them and say – “I see that you have been quiet lately. You seem a bit tensed too. Am I right? Is there something which I don’t know, or can help with?” Never walk up to someone and pass a judgement, “Why are you sad? What’s upsetting you?”

Remember our assessments about others’ emotional state are just that – assessments. Mistaking them for truth could trigger an emotional reaction and make them defensive, which we don’t want to. What works for me is to state my assessment tentatively, and to always ask for verification.

3. Listen And Acknowledge. Don’t Judge And React

It is only human to be emotional. When someone opens up about their emotions to you, it is an act of courage. Don’t dishonour that act by rushing to judgement or suggestion. Just like our own emotions, acknowledge them by listening and understanding their point of view. Try to stand in their shoes and sympathetically feel what they feel.

Challenging others’ emotions is often counter-productive and makes them feel alienated and disrespected. If their emotion is directed at you or they feel your behaviour led to the emotion, you might be tempted to justify yourself. But that never helps anyone. If you can stay calm and relaxed, any emotional attack will eventually diffuse itself.

Emotions are the result of an internal fire. Reacting emotionally only adds fuel to that fire. Instead, let we can let it run out of fuel by allowing others to express themselves fully while we listen empathically.

Remember, mastering your own emotions is a prerequisite before handling others' emotions.

Remember, mastering your own emotions is a prerequisite before handling others’ emotions.

4. Let The Storm Pass. Take A Time Out
When there is damage due to a weather related storm, we don’t rush out to do repairs while the storm is still on. We wait for the storm to pass before assessing the damage, and doing any repairs. Similarly, if we notice an emotional storm, it is always best to wait for it to pass before jumping in to help.

There have been many instances when I have been sucked in to respond to an emotional employee. I have always regretted it later as it only made the situation worse. Taking a time out often works for me. A few moments to breathe often allows both parties to stay with their emotions and come to peace with them.

I believe the best way to understand someone else’s emotions is to observe our own. Becoming aware of our own emotions can help us empathise with others. When we feel compassion for others’ emotional states, regardless of whether we agree with their reasons or not, then we are ready to take the next step — which is asking the right questions and coaching them.

5. Coach. Inquire. Ask the Right Questions
The next step is to ask coaching questions and help them understand their own emotions. By genuinely inquiring and listening to others, we can help them clarify their thoughts.

Coaching via asking open questions is about respecting people as individuals, and giving them a free choice to act in a way that is consistent with their values.

Coaching someone doesn’t mean fixing other’s problems. We don’t get to be a superhero through coaching. Coaching is about letting others find their own answers – ones they already know but have become masked behind their stirred emotions. Coaching begins with genuine care for your employees and colleagues. It is a skill which requires practice, and you get better at it with each conversation.

Depending on the emotion, the coaching questions you can ask will differ. Here are a few examples –
Sadness – What are you sad about? What did you lost? Why did that matter so much for you? How could you grieve or mourn for your loss? Is there something I can do for you to support you?
Fear – What is scaring you? What are the chances of that happening? How does that impacts you? How can you prepare better for it to minimise the damage? What else can you do to feel at peace?
Anger – Who hurt you? What boundaries did they cross? How can you express your complaint and act in a way consistent with your values? How can you put the issue behind? What would it take for you to forgive them, or let go?
Guilt – What did you do? What damage did it cause? Who have you hurt? How can you make amends? Have you apologised? How can you be at peace? Can you forgive yourself?

Don’t Allow Yourself to Use the Word “TIRED”

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine, who has been a state level Taekwondo Champion for the state of California. She was telling me about her strenuous training program which she used to follow when she was training. Among other things, the one thing which she told me was that she was not allowed to use the word “tired” even if the trainer asked her to do 300 push ups. She said “tired” was the word which they could use only after they turned 80.

The Role of Language in Shaping Our World

Language plays a very important role in how we feel and go about our daily lives. The way we use language can determine the results we produce in the near and distant future. Researchers at Stanford University have proved that the way we use language shape how we see the world.

It is often said that what you say is what you get. Saying that you are tired will actually make you feel tired and you will have all the symptoms to prove that. But we don’t realize that it was our word which caused it in the first place.

So when someone asks you “How are you doing?” and you reply with, “I am tired” or “You know how Mondays’ are.“, we are actually contributing towards the impending tiredness or exhaustion by saying these words. The same goes for all the negative thoughts that come into our mind and out of our mouth, like “I don’t have enough money“, “I am not lucky” and so on.

Remove these words from your vocabulory

Remove these words from your vocabulary

Words can Take Power away, or they can Give Power

Whenever we say something, we increase our belief in it. We give power to outside situations, individuals and circumstances which is always disempowering. Athletes, like my friend in the example above, are not allowed to use such language because the trainers are aware of this fact.

On the other hand, when somebody asks you, “How are you doing?” and you reply, “I am doing great!!“, you will actually feel a smile on your face and some adrenaline rushing through your body. It is impossible to say I am doing great without actually feeling good.

If you are stretching your limits while doing a task, instead of saying “I am tired“, next time try saying, “Let me check my physical limits.“, and you will gain the strength to go that extra mile and achieve the impossible.

Do you see a connection between what you have been saying and how your life is turning out?

One of the quickest ways to improve your way of being is to change the words you use, to others and to yourself. When I say words, it includes the spoken words and the unspoken thoughts too.

Just by changing the words we use, we can release a lot of tension and create joy. So the next time you speak, be aware of the words that come out of your mouth. Be aware how others’ negative words make you speak out negative words too, and vice versa. Try to catch yourself when in a negative emotion and speak powerful words instead.

Speak words which profit others, depicts hope, courage and inspiration and which create positive images. Then notice the difference in how your surroundings and people react.

Use more of these words

Use more of these words

Some of the danger words which we should cut from our vocabulary are –

  1. Should / Could – These words, spoken for ourselves or for others, implies judgement and makes people defensive and tense.
  2. Try / Maybe – These words leave ambiguity and leaves an option for you or another to escape commitment in case things get difficult.
  3. Always / Never / Nobody  / Everybody – These words generalise opinions which are rarely the case and can cause people to react unexpectedly.
  4. Bad / Disastrous / Terrible – These words spread panic and can lead to more mistakes, stress and confusion.
  5. Nothing is gonna change / That’s how it is done here – Using such phrases creates a culture of resentment and cynicism which ends up killing all enthusiasm and creativity in people.

Instead, you can use powerful words and make them work for you :-

  1. Declare a Commitment. 
    1. I commit to exercising 3o minutes daily.
    2. Let us commit together to make this company the best place to work for.
  2. Make a Promise
    1. I promise to finish this report in two days.
    2. I promise to never drink and drive again.
  3. Make a Specific Request
    1. Can you finish this report before Friday or not?
    2. If you like it, can you share this article on facebook today?
  4. Offer Support
    1. Is there anything I can do to help you with this task?
    2. I am just a phone call away, if you need me.
  5. Offer Hope
    1. You will make it through it. You are stronger than you think.
    2. Believe in yourself, not the critics. I know you will prove them wrong.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. – Lao Tzu

So the next time, instead of saying –

  • “I can’t exercise more, I am tired.”, say, “I am not tired, let me do one more round.”
  • “I can’t work outside because I have asthma”, say, “I will work to prove I am bigger than my asthma”
  • “I can’t do this because I don’t have enough money”, say, “How can I earn enough money to start doing this?”
  • “I am not feeling good, it is going to be a bad day”, say, “Today is going to be a great day and I am raring to go”
  • “My life sucks”, say, “Today is a new day. Let’s make the most of it!!”

Do this and you will see that your days will get brighter and dreams will turn into reality. Break the pattern of using words which suck power out of you, and instead form a new habit of using words which give power to you and the people around you.

Why We Should Break the Safety Wall Around Us (to be Happy)

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. ” – Seneca

We all have build ‘safety walls‘ around us that are unconscious to us, and are strengthened over time. They determine what we can and cannot do, what we try and what we don’t. Almost all our actions are determined by these safety walls.

But rather than being safety walls, they are more of a trap where we are stuck in a state of presumed comfort and our each decision is determined by these walls. They make us believe that life is tough outside of these, and there might be unforeseen dangers. So unknowingly, and only in assumption of some ‘danger‘ we don’t risk going over these walls.

I have found myself in similar situations many times. No matter how many fake assurances I gave to myself that I was doing good, the fact is that when you are in your comfort zone, you are still while life is zipping by.

When the world is moving ahead and you are still, you are on a decline.

If we stay in this zone, over time, our excitement and energy levels begin to come down. We feel more and more lazy and tired each day, and our eating habits (and with it, our belly too) go out of shape pretty soon.

It might look like life is going on FINE, but in reality we all know that we are not moving ahead while our limited time on this planet is passing by.

Be Vulnerable

The first step towards breaking the aforementioned safety walls around you is to become aware of the fact that you are trapped in your habits. Are these habits and patterns are running your life on auto-pilot? Or are you in control of your life?

Once you are aware of this trap, you can take steps towards breaking these so called safety walls and explore the ‘real‘ world outside. If you have to really live (rather than just exist), go outside and be vulnerable – to your fears, anxiety and become comfortable with them. Only then you will feel liberating and peaceful.

Outside of these walls, what I have found is that there are opportunities rather than dangers, there is excitement rather than boredom and joy rather than frustrations.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. – Randy Pausch

Have Faith

When you step out of your comfort zone, there will always be a little uncertainty and fear. But consider that these are more of an illusion created by your brain rather than real, and move on ahead. Have faith in life and face your fears by taking small steps.

It will do two things. One is that you will realise that your fears were more perceived than real, and two, you will expand your comfort zone. Very soon you will be comfortable in situations you weren’t before.

Dream Big

In our safety zone, we all tend to believe that we have something to loose if we step out and try something new. But take a moment and think, what do we have to lose?

We all have our limited time on this planet, and nobody knows when ours is ending. Life is a gift given to all of us, and when we stay in our safety walls, we are just waiting for it to get over rather than truly enjoying whatever it has to offer.

So do something, almost anything you like and the way you want to do it and see what happens. When you let go of whatever is holding you back, you will experience what real freedom and being alive is about. So dream big, and go for them, step by step.

If you win, you WIN! If you loose, remember that you didn’t had anything to loose anyways!

Stay Young, Die Young

I have always felt that age has nothing to do with being twenty or sixty. I can show you many 80 year olds more energetic and active than many 20 year olds. When you step out of your comfort zones, you experience being alive and that is what being young is.

Wouldn’t you want to stay young all life and die a young man, irrespective of your age? We should all strive to live our lives waiting for Mondays rather than Fridays, waiting for mornings rather than evenings, and waiting for beginnings instead of endings.

Each day is a gift, and we should be grateful for it everyday we wake up. Life is giving us this gift daily, and we must strive to make the most out of these gifts before they run out of. There is not a second to be wasted, not a moment to be spent without feeling alive.

Make out the most of what each moment has to offer. Because we never know when life will stop giving us this gift!

How to Deal with Your Emotions In The Workplace And Make Them Work For You

Fresh out of college, when I started to work professionally as a 21 year old, I dived into work passionately and emotionally. Not only did I do great work during that year, I also had a lot of fun with my team, many of whom are still my good friends. I was emotionally attached to the work and the people around me, and I considered that a strength at that time.

Not soon after, I had my first performance appraisal along with my friends (colleagues). Very soon, things weren’t as simple and fun as words like bonus, promotions and salary increments entered the vocabulary. Emotions flared, arguments ensued, and I had a hard time dealing with my emotions. I gave into the temptation of reacting emotionally a few times and strained my relationships with some people.

After a few such incidents, I started to consider my emotions a weakness and shut myself down, creating personal and professional boundaries in the workplace. I am glad that phase didn’t last very long.

Today, after working for over 12 years in different companies and across continents, I consider emotions an integral part of the workplace, and they can be very powerful if we know what to do with them.

Below are a few of my observations about dealing with our emotions at work :-

Every Emotion Tells Us What We Care About
When I formed great friends during my first year at work, my emotions (of joy) were telling me I care about trust and honesty. Later when I was angry and felt being wronged, my emotions were telling me I cared about everyone being treated fairly and respectfully. And when that expectation was not met, it gave rise to the frustration and anger.

The more attention we pay to our emotions, the more aware we can be of what they are trying to tell us. We can then reflect upon and listen to what they are telling us, and then still act in a way which is consistent with our values and long term objectives.

"We gain the strength of the temptation we resist." Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emotions Are Always Valid. The Stories Behind Them Might Not Be
There are no right and wrong emotions. There are no positive and negative emotions. Our emotions are always valid, and an inevitable part of being human. But we can examine the stories behind our emotions to separate the useful facts from false beliefs. Each emotion can tell us about something significant in our lives, but only if we are willing to examine the stories behind them objectively.

For example – I felt angry and frustrated once when I didn’t get an expected bonus. In this case I embraced the emotion without denial and examined the assessments behind it. I believed I had performed very well and shared the same with my manager. It was then that I got some feedback which made me aware of the gaps in my performance, and which I could improve upon. Thus I came to the realisation that while my emotion was valid, the story behind it lacked evidence and was not well grounded in facts.

My manager understood my concerns and it strengthened our relationship. He also promised me to deliver any such feedback earlier the next time. In the end, it prevented me from reacting impulsively and judging others, which would have not done any good for both me and my team.

I have learned that we can always witness our emotions as they arise instead of being sucked in their gravitational power and respond impulsively.

Emotions Need To Be Expressed. Without Explosion or Repression
According to Daniel Goleman, the capacity to subordinate immediate gratification to long term objectives is the most important psychological skill. All emotions lead to one or the other impulse to act, which often are harmful to us in the long term. At such moments, we need to take the driver’s seat and prevent our emotions from taking over. Emotions are very good messengers but very bad masters.

Just like tying a wild horse only infuriates him, repressing our emotions never works. When we do so, we end up suffering inside while putting up a brave face on the outside. By repressing, we are bound to explode sooner or later and it also results in stress which can end up impacting our health. Shouting at others (explosion), or sulking in silence (repression) never solves any problem. It often only makes it worse.

Emotional Intelligence involves expressing our emotions, without repression or explosion. If we can understand our emotions and the stories behind them as a third party observer, we can accept them fully without abdicating our responsibility to them. We can then choose to act according to our values – even in the face of failure and disappointment. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can always act in ways congruent to our values.

“To increase your effectiveness, make your emotions subordinate to your commitments.” -Brian Koslow

Give Up Your Need to Be Right

The reason we are so tempted to react impulsively to an emotion is because it provides our ego instant gratification. When we shout and explode in anger, it makes us right and the other person wrong. Even if we know it is harmful to us in the long term, it gives us an immediate boost of righteousness. To handle our emotions well, we have to give up our need to be right all the time. We have to give up the temptation to “win” in every conversation and situation.

I feel that we do our best work when we are emotionally engaged. We are our most creative and productive selves when we feel emotionally safe and don’t have to put on a mask at work. However, if we don’t know how to handle our emotions and give in to impulsive responses, we can do more harm than good.

To sum it up :-

  • When we are happy on a successful result, an impulsive reaction could be to over-promise in excitement. But a conscious expression of happiness would be to just celebrate and acknowledge the hard work.
  • When we are sad on experiencing a loss, an impulsive reaction could be resignation and cynicism about the future. But a conscious expression of sadness would be to just grieve and acknowledge your loss.
  • When we are scared and fearful, an impulsive reaction could be to shut down and seek protection. But a conscious expression of fear would be to take a step back, assess the situation properly and then act with courage.
  • When we feel anger and frustration, an impulsive reaction could be to explode or repress our feelings. But a conscious expression of anger would be to make a complaint and sharing our concerns.
  • When we feel guilt after a mistake, an impulsive reaction could be to beat ourself up and sulking in shame. But a conscious expression of guilt would be to make a sincere apology and repair the broken trust with a new promise for the future.

How to Use The Surprising Power of Compound Interest in Life

The Power of Compound Interest In Life - By SUMIT GUPTA

The Power of Compound Interest In Life – By SUMIT GUPTA

When I was young my mother used to wake me up 5 minutes earlier than I had told her to, and made me study any of my school books before getting ready to go to school. I often used to ask her – “how would studying this for just 5 minutes make any difference?” And she would say – “You will know that by the end of the year.” It took me a few years to realise how much my good grades were determined by those 5 minutes of study time daily.

We all know the power of compound interest when it comes to money. This article will focus on how we all can use the same principle of compound interest in other areas of our life to get enormous gains. Only if we realize, that is.

Doing something small, which might look very trivial and futile, and doing it regularly without fail – no matter what it is, will take your skills in that area to a totally different level over time. This habit has stayed with me ever since my childhood, and I have used to learn several new skills. Below are a few examples we can make our lives better in just 5 minutes –

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it.” ― Albert Einstein

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
― Albert Einstein

  1. Just spend 5 minutes reading a book every day, and by the end of the year, you will have finished many books and you will have many new skills and learnings. I still carry this habit which my mother imbibed in me so many years ago.
  2. Spend 5 minutes exercising every day, and you will be amazed at how much strength and energy you have after a few months.
  3. Getting up Early – If you get up at 8 am and want to move to a 5 am routine, start with just a 5 minute early start. Get up at 7:55 am for a week, and then get up at 7:50 am the next week. In around 9 months, you will be waking up at 5 am without even noticing it.
  4. Write – If you always want to write something but never had the time to do so, just write the topic and title of what you want to write about today. Tomorrow, just write a few bullet points. Over the next few days – take each point and expand it to a paragraph. Within a week, you will have a full page post ready.
  5. Photography – I was always interested in making better photos and photography, but never used to get the time to do so. After 4 years of buying my DSLR, I finally decided to give 5 minutes to photography daily – whether it is shooting any subject I could find at my home or outside, or reading an article or watching a video about it. Within a couple of years, my photography skills had improved so much that I now take it very seriously and might even do it professionally at some point in the future.

So think about the things which are not working in your life and career right now, or stuff for which you don’t have time. Now, start doing just 5 minutes of it daily, and stick to it.

Things to Take Care
While it is easy to do something for just 5 minutes a day, it is also very easy to forget doing your 5 minute task. There are a few things we can do to keep at this habit –
1. Set a reminder in your phone. Once the alarm goes off, make it a priority to do your 5 minute task.
2. Watch yourself get better in that skill over time. Celebrate for 5 minutes every now and then, for sticking to the habit and for the getting better.