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The importance of controlling emotions at work

by Susanna Hofmann June 21, 2012

​Last Sunday I was watching the final of Queen's Club, a very prestigious tennis grass tournament that takes place every year in London,  just before Wimbledon.

During the match the player David Nalbandian missed a very important shot. As a reaction to losing his serve, he kicked an advertising board which accidentally hit the line judge's leg.

Injured and bleeding, the line judge was immediately taken to a medical centre to receive treatment and the match was suspended. It was an unfortunate episode for which Nalbandian received severe punishment from the ATP (a fine up to £6,400 and having his £36,500 prize money withdrawn).

Life is filled with difficult situations from losing a sporting competition to a job loss. In between, there are several stress triggers that make a simple daily issue become something much more challenging and stressful than it probably is. It is very easy to lose our temper when we are under a lot of pressure, but any aggressive behaviour in the working environment should not be tolerated.

We can of course feel disappointed if we have lost an important client or if the front runner candidate has decided to pull out of an interview, but that should not give us the freedom to reacting offensively. In other words, negative behaviour will not bring anything positive; if anything it will worsen the perception your company has about your performance.

Any time you find yourself in a difficult situation try to apply the following steps: think before you act and if necessary take an extra second or two to assess the situation before you react. Avoid using words that can be perceived as confrontational and always focus on facts; in other words, don't let emotions get in the way of business.

Finally, as the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, always remember : "οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ μὲν ὀργισθῆναι παντὸς καὶ ῥᾴδιον, καὶ τὸ δοῦναι ἀργύριον καὶ δαπανῆσαι· τὸ δ᾽ ᾧ καὶ ὅσον καὶ ὅτε καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ ὥς, οὐκέτι παντὸς οὐδὲ ῥᾴδιον· διόπερ τὸ εὖ καὶ σπάνιον καὶ ἐπαινετὸν καὶ   καλόν" (Anyone can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not within everyone's power and that is not easy, wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble).

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