3 Powerful Ways To Become More Emotionally Resilient at Work

October 31, 2018 • 7 minute read • by Saeed


“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.“

–         Marcus Aurelius

Managing your emotions in the workplace is more important today than it ever has been — because today’s workplace is a challenging place.  A controlling boss, demanding clients, competition with your colleagues, insufficient boundaries between your work life and personal life. Recognizing difficulties, and choosing to learn and to grow from them, does not negate their existence or potency, but establishes them as of a distinct facet of one’s life. Most of us are juggling multiple priorities, sometimes with limited resources. The range of emotions we experience at work is enormous but when we manage our emotions, we’re better able to handle the changes and challenges all jobs bring.

This requires emotional well-being.

1.      It starts with self awareness…

Everything starts with self-awareness. You bring your brain to work. You bring your emotions to work. Feelings drive performance. First, identify common causes of stress for you in the workplace from personal experiences. Determine your levels of personal and work-related stress and recognize the ways you may be contributing unintentionally to your own levels of stress.

Begin by identifying aspects of your personal and professional lifestyle choices in relation to your management of emotional well-being. In other words, examine if you have set yourself up to fail or succeed. Learn to differentiate between positive stress and negative stress and your reactions to each. Cultivate interests outside of work, including activities with good friends. Remember, not all satisfaction comes from work accomplishments.

2.      It develops when you reach for mastery…

Next, define emotional mastery, what it might mean to you and its impact on your work life. Identify different feelings in the past and present and your reactions to those feelings. Remember how you managed them. What worked? What didn’t? Differentiate between groups of emotions to better understand how you are feeling and why. Some emotions present an extra challenge when we encounter them at work. Five hard-to-handle emotions that are common in the workplace that warrant attention include frustration, worry or insecurity, anger, feeling “down”, and dislike.

Any number of workplace situations can cause this: limited promotional opportunities that make us feel stuck in a job or a difficult manager who ignores our suggestion for a process improvement. Frustrations, especially those that are chronic, need to be dealt with early, or the feeling can spiral into anger, a much more difficult emotion to control. Evaluate your emotional debt and discover ways to pay it off. Analyze situations so that your emotions do not sabotage the results you want. Recognize thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with these situations and analyze behavior patterns associated with them so you can begin to head them off at the pass.

3.      It’s put into action when you are intentional…

As you develop awareness and identify patterns, create a personal action plan to implement your learning back at work. Use your mirror listening skills to understand how others are feeling. Identify feelings and the reasons why people feel the way they do. Don’t just think about your positive feelings for others, but act on them. At the same time, recognize when to be assertive in interacting with others but always maintain being respectful. To maintain steadiness and calm, identify rituals that presently exist in your life, classify your rituals according to purpose and stick to them, well, religiously. Learn to express your emotions in appropriate ways.

Be sure to allow yourself to deal with difficult feelings in appropriate ways for the work place. If you feel angry, take the time to consider what may have triggered the feeling and consider actions you could take to diffuse such a situation in the future. You don’t need to pretend you’re not feeling the way you are, but you do need to deal with the emotions so that they do not affect your interactions with others. Give appropriate feedback to clear the air. For example, if a co-worker has said something in a meeting that offended you and this is bothering you, talk with the person about it, preferably soon after the event and in private

Final Word

It is important that your work does not become your life. Maintain support systems outside of work. Talking honestly about your concerns with close friends or your partner can help reduce your anxiety and keep problems in perspective. Choose someone you trust who knows you well enough to give you honest feedback when you need it. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends and family, hiring a coach can be a great step in this direction. Talking to a professional coach can help you gain perspective on problems and come up with solutions as well as specific techniques that will help you manage your emotions more effectively. You can also seek support from your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) program, if you have one.

Above all, eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. If you’re well-rested, well-nourished, and physically strong, you’ll have more energy to meet emotional challenges. This will help keep you “emotionally resilient” and help you feel more in control of your emotions and your life.

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It’s About Action Not Ideas: Why Inertia and Emotions are Your Enemy

January 16, 2018 • 3 minute read • by Saeed


“Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.” ~Arnold H. Glasow

You may be married to your great ideas. You may think that it’s your great idea that will change the world or create your next business success. I am here to tell you that you are wrong.

The success of you, your team, your company or your community is reliant on one thing and one thing only: your commitment to action.

As evidence, please consider the work of Bill Gross. Bill founded the technology incubator IdeaLab in 1996. Since its founding, they have created over 150 companies with more than 45 IPOs and acquisitions.

Naturally, Bill has had a unique vantage point on why some companies succeed where others fail. He analyzed the companies founded by IdeaLab and ranked each company on a scale of 1-10 on 5 factors:

·        Idea

·        Team/Execution

·        Business Model

·        Funding

·        Timing

Timing beat out all other factors with Team/Execution coming in a close second. Here is how things looked:

·        Timing (42%)

·        Team/Execution (32%)

·        Idea (28%)

·        Business Model (24%)

·        Funding (14%)

Inertia (and Emotions) are the Enemy

Raymond Albert “Ray” Kroc took over the budding fast food burger chain from the McDonald brothers in 1954 and turned it into a nationwide and eventually global franchise. As he liked to say, the two most important requirements for major success are: “first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.”

You recognize this pattern. You are frustrated at work or with some aspect of your life. An idea comes into your head and you get incredibly excited. Your passions are stirred. You have found a way out. Your new idea rises to the top of your to-do list. But after a while, after thought, research and reflection, it starts getting pushed back down again.

As Gregg Krech writes in his book The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology, the problem with this approach to motivation is that it’s far too hung up on the importance of being excited about the idea –  on the emotional surge that results in a temporary rush of motivation that comes from believing we are about to change the world or to change our lives for good –  and that eventually gives way to actually doing the less glamorous work needed to advance the idea. The alternative is to stop riding the tide of emotions and do stuff anyway.

“The only way to really deal with the problem of excitement,” Krech writes, “is to stop becoming dependent on it.”

A final word…

All this doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a relationship or job you hate; it just means not relying on excitement, or the avoidance of discomfort, to decide on your next move. It means being a doer rather than a thinker. It means stop procrastinating while you hold out for perfection. It means slaying the fear dragon. Fear of success or failure. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of what others will think of you. It is action, not ideas, that contains the power to dissolve your fears. Non-action is exhausting. Non-action is de-motivating.

Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t overthink. Make a commitment, create momentum and embrace the power of doing something ‘NOW.’

After all, it’s what you do after the excitement fades that defines who you are.

Good luck.

Wait! Before you go…

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

©2018 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

10 Easy Ways to Unplug (And Why You Must)

May 5, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed


“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” ~ Unknown

Companies have strategic plans so why not you?

Here is the brutal truth about modern day life:  On a typical day, you are air traffic control for dozens of conversations, meetings, decisions, tasks, and thoughts that fly through your head seeking refuge or resolution. Unless you’re an a-emotional Mr. Spock type, that’s a recipe for burnout and disaster. That’s a recipe for an impending crash.

If life has become an exhausting and giant game of wackamole, know that it will take its toll. Stress causes deterioration in everything ranging from your relationships to your hairline. To make matters worse, modern technology has created unprecedented convenience but also co-dependence. We are tethered to technology in ways that cause, not alleviate anxiety.

Elon Musk wants to give us all relief from the congested streets above, through underground traffic tunnels below. Finding refuge and relief from the daily congestion of life is a good metaphor for the need to unplug.

Here is the brutal truth about change: The secret to change is in whether or not the new behavior or habit is sustainable. Life is a matter of making progress in small steps, not giant leaps. Tiny steps are sustainable and they add up to a net positive cumulative result.

So before you’re no longer resembling something human, go analogue and go small in order to go big.

  1. Meditate

Start your day this way. The benefits of a meditation practice have been scientifically proven. It’s not esoteric. It’s just exercise for the mind. Don’t stress about meditation. Just think of it as five or ten minutes a day to simply witness your thoughts and experience first-hand how noisy it is up there. Practice focus. Learn about your mind.

  1. Sit and listen

Find it hard to meditate? Take a smaller step. Close your eyes and sit and listen to all the sounds nearby. Don’t think anything just notice. Then slowly move your perception out farther and farther picking up sounds just outside, traffic maybe, and then a train off in the distance. See how far you can tune in. This exercise will open up pathways in your thinking and quiet the noise that’s around you. It’s also the preamble to a solid meditation practice.

  1. Do some yoga (or skip the posing and just stretch)

I know you’re tired of hearing about yoga but there is a reason that yoga philosophy has lasted thousands of years and has countless disciples. Numerous studies have documented the potent health benefits of yoga on a myriad of ailments. Yoga has many parts to it – meditation, breathing, stretching and strengthening. How can it not be good for you?

  1. Take ‘nano’ vacactions

How many times have you been on a long vacation only to find yourself working in the middle of it? Research has found that frequent short breaks are better than long vacations. So try using your accumulated time off in bursts instead of spending it as a big wad. You’ll be happier and more productive. The bonus of short vacs is that it’s also easier to unplug your  computer, phone, TV, toddler and so on.

  1. Get your art on

This is catharsis through art. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be good. Set up an area in your office with paint and canvas or crayons and paper if you have to – the idea is to unplug and do something creative – try not to be bound to electronics.  Think it sounds silly? Try watching a preschooler drawing. Watch how they are lost in the moment. This is an ideal medium for escape from the daily grind.

  1. Journal

Get in the habit of free flow journaling. Do it once in the morning and once at night for 5 minutes. In the morning, write down what you’re looking forward to. What challenges do you anticipate? How do you see yourself dealing with them? In the evening, do a retrospective of your day. What worked? What could have gone better? What lessons did you learn?  You will soon notice many new insights into how you can be more effective and you will have a document of your improvements.

  1. Take a hike

Are you not amazed at the healing power of nature? A forest full of eucalyptus – smell it. Salt water ocean breeze – feel it. The trickle of a stream – hear it. It’s all good for you. It’s your natural environment. It’s where you belong. It’s healing. Trust me.

  1. Take a walk

Can’t hike? Exercise of any kind boosts endorphins and promotes good health. Have you given yourself an impossible exercise routine? That’s why you are not doing it. Try walking for 30 minutes each day instead. It’s actually all you need to do.

  1. Release tension through progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is one of my favorite techniques that you can do in a meeting or from your desk. Start with your toes and work your way up tightening and relaxing each muscle as you go until you get to your face. Do it every day at some point during the day. Your body will thank you for releasing all that tension.

  1. Build a good sleep habit

End your day this way. Busy people just neglect their sleep but maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule is paramount to good health. Don’t eat a large meal before you go to bed, have a relaxing bath, and cut down on caffeine because your behaviors during the day can impact how you sleep at night. Most importantly, unplug your phone, your computer and your TV. Screen time stimulates the brain and makes it harder to relax and wind down before bed. Healthy sleep habits are the cornerstone of a healthy and relaxed mind that can cope effectively with the inevitable stressors life throws your way.

Live long. Prosper.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other most recent post on how to be successful when you are new on the job.

Best,

Saeed

Tethered to Technology: Smartphone Stress and Digital Anxiety

April 18, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed


I was recently on a trip to Marrakech. The last time I was there was 20 years ago. My sister asked me what had changed? The only change I could see was a Smartphone in every Moroccan hand and heads constantly buried in them.

We’ve developed an insatiable appetite for new digital media. Facebook, Apple, Google and a host of other Silicon Valley behemoths are all too happy to supply a constant stream of new apps and devices to feed our obsession.

Apple has sold over a billion iPhones since its launch in 2007 and Google now claims to process over 40,000 search queries every second worldwide. That’s 3.5 billion searches per day or 1.2 trillion searches per year. At last count, Facebook had over 1.7 billion monthly active users. That’s larger than the population of India (1.252 billion) or China (1.357 billion).

The New Normal

For millennials, the on-the-go connectivity is simply the way life has always been.

Their phones have always been smart.

The Internet has always been on.

Content has always been on a constant stream.

They’ve likely never waited in line at the bank, rarely waited for letters to arrive by mail, and seldom had their musical choices limited to the radio or what can fit on a mass-marketed CD.

They’ve always been able to choose humane, green, fair trade, organic, and employee owned. Their shopping has always been aligned with their core values and facilitated online.

For the rest of us, this is the new normal and our digital life is here to stay. Technology has ingrained and ingratiated itself into our daily lives. So, it’s reasonable to wonder about its real world impact.

An Assault on Focus

If technology has eroded your ability to focus, you are not alone. If your mind is constantly wandering, wanting to get on the internet, scanning ahead, or needing to check in with your virtual world every few seconds, you are not alone. And you are not alone if you want to do just about anything except focus your attention on one thing for a long period of time.

Technology has not only changed the way we communicate and socialize, it’s changed our brains. The nature of brain neuroplasticity is that it is responsive to the new stimulations caused by technology. Technology changes the way we think, act, learn, make choices and interact with each another. It has added convenience, yes. But it has also increased our dependency and is chipping away daily at our ability to concentrate.

Connection Anxiety

Smartphones alone bring an unprecedented level of convenience but also codependence to our lives. Instead of separation anxiety, we have developed ‘connection’ anxiety. Smartphones tether us to our colleagues, bosses, friends, and relatives.

A recent study showed that when used for work-related communications they disturb our ability to psychologically disengage from the stress of the job. This makes us vulnerable to work-related exhaustion. Increased productivity because we stay connected to work in the evening hours is achieved at the cost of our mental health. In another study, researchers found that heavy Smartphone users they separated from their phones showed increased anxiety after only 10 minutes and that anxiety continued to increase across the hour long study.

The Emoji Society

In the 21st century, our real and virtual worlds overlap. They comingle, cohabitate, and collide in a digital world that uses 21st century tools to mediate our interaction.  But what are the consequences of having tools that are always on and that blur the boundaries between virtual and real friends or personal and professional communication?

Instead of face-to-face communication, what are the consequences when we send photos, video, or other multimedia representations of our self, to convey friendliness, build intimacy, or express strong emotions?

The average American sends 96 emojis per day! What happens when emojis take over our communication and when our sentences are reduced to 140 characters to fit into an online text box?

Technology will continue to redefine how we interact with our digital ecosystem. But at what cost? I  would love to hear what you think. Let me know by sounding off in the comments below.

  1. Is the new technology isolating people or augmenting existing social relationships?
  2. Is it enhancing or deteriorating the state of our interpersonal communication?