How to Handle Your Emotions at Work

Sign Up For Weekly Tips! Get Trevor’s Weekly Tips Straight To Your Inbox!

Today I watched an episode of “Afterlife,” Ricky Gervais’ new hit comedy about a depressed guy trying to sort out his life after the death of his wife.

I found it too dark for me, and pretty coarse, but it did make me think through the day about the fact that everyone.  Everyone.  Is fighting a battle somewhere.  We all have areas of sadness, hurt, pain and challenge.  To hurt is to be human.

But how do you handle those emotions in the workplace?  Long ago I made a commitment to myself to only ‘lift’ clients; never to bring them down.  If you’ve worked with me, you’ve never seen me have a bad day.  Actually you have, I just made sure I didn’t make it into your problem.

When you’re in pain, it’s not fair to make your co-workers suffer as well.  It’s fine to be honest and authentic, but you come to work to contribute, and it’s important that you don’t drag everyone around you down for extended periods of time.

Let me share some things I’ve learned about handling negative emotions when you’re going through something hard, and you still have to show up at work:

  1. Be careful what you focus on
    Whatever you choose to focus your mind on becomes your reality.  If you choose to focus on your broken relationship, it overwhelms you.  If you choose to focus on hope for the future, you begin to believe that.   Put better things into your mind.  Read hopeful things.  Listen to podcasts that inspire you.  Talk with positive people.
  2. Act your way into the feeling
    Malcom Gladwell writes about two psychologists who recorded every facial emotion expressed by humans; about 3000 of them.  They took pictures of each other’s faces demonstrating how each emotion looked.  They found that on days where they were showing the emotions of joy, delight, and happiness, they went home delighted.  When they spent the day showing emotions of sadness, grief, and anxiety, they felt terrible at the end of the day.  Same goes for you.Act like you’re happy even when you feel terrible.  Do what happy people do.  Pretend you’re one of them.  Fake it til you make it.  You’ll notice a difference.
  3. Do something active
    Whenever you feel awful, you’re sitting or slouching or dragging your heels or laying down.  It’s hard to feel as terrible when you’re walking briskly or swimming or playing a sport.  Do something active and you’ll feel better.
  4. Focus on the future
    Life is like a trip on a sailboat.  Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes it’s stormy, and occasionally you hit a hurricane.  When you’re in a hurricane, sometimes all you can do is hold on and survive.  But even hurricanes end.  And squalls and storms and rainy days are just part of life.Remind yourself that there are better days coming, and put some energy each day into making them a reality.
  5. Be grateful for what you have
    Grateful people are happy people.  Ungrateful people can only be unhappy; in their minds they’ve been unjustly used.  We’ve all been treated badly, and we all have amazing blessings in our lives.  Make a list of yours and be thankful for what you have at the moment.Your happiness depends on you, not on another person.

I live in a town where all sorts of bad things happen.  Like yours.  Traffic is bad sometimes, there’s vandalism on bus stands, and some buildings are in various states of ruin.  I can focus on that, or I can raise my eyes a few degrees and focus on the majestic Mt. Baker that looks down on our town.  It’s my choice what I focus on.

I empathize with you in your pain, and also want to see you move to a brighter future,

Your attitude is a servant of your will, not a victim of your circumstance.

Recommended Resources:

Uncover your strengths and weaknesses with our complimentary assessment. Boost your effectiveness at work and with your team.

Free Resource Library: Access our extensive collection of valuable resources for instant support in your personal and professional growth.

Explore Our Course Library:

Enhance your leadership skills with our diverse selection of courses. Take your abilities to the next level and become a more effective leader and team player.
Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


Our Clients Love the Professional Leadership Institute

Your team will, too! Check out some reviews from our students.
The PLI program was invaluable to our network.
The range of topics delivered, the open dialogue, experience, and examples that PLI brought to each session were outstanding and provided a path for our Franchisees and Managers to look at leadership, coaching, and connecting with their teams in a new light. Many have implemented these strategies in their bakeries and have seen immediate results.
Michelle C.
COBS Bread
Highly recommend to help your team move forward
We have locations around BC and Alberta, so getting people on the same page can be very difficult... Until now. Our entire management team and location managers take the same great courses and then meet monthly online with our coach to apply it to our situation. People are engaged, the courses are excellent, we love our coach, and we are all learning together!
Jason Fawcett
President, Kelson Group
The result has been a transformation of our culture. 
We decided to implement PLI's strategies across the country in over 150 locations and over 3500 employees.  The result has been a transformation of our culture.  People's lives have been positively impacted - professionally and personally.  Morale is high and sales and profits are up as a result.
Daryl Verbeek
Daryl Verbeek
We’ve learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all
The roadmap laid out set our business up to quintuple in sales.  We've learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all, attract top talent, and spend our time focused on results, not internal staffing problems.  I highly recommend PLI to you - it's worked for us!
John DeJong
Satisfied Client
I had no idea that running a business could be this fun!
In less than 18 months of working with Trevor, he has transformed my business from being average to exceptional, where mediocrity is not acceptable, where being great is standard.  Working with PLI has allowed me to realize my dream of not simply owning a job, but owning a business.
Justin Bontkes
Principal, Caliber Projects
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year with Trevor’s help.  He is funny, relatable, and his tools are very very practical and have helped us focus and upgrade our teams throughout our retail network. Trevor recently spoke to an employee group, and one person remarked, “I could listen to Trevor all day.”   We would highly recommend Trevor.
Stan Pridham
Founder, KMS Tools
The results have been remarkable
At first, we resisted, “This just won’t work with a law firm.” But we persisted and the results have been remarkable: our client base and profits have steadily improved, and staff engagement and morale is the healthiest its ever been.
Doug Lester
Partner, RDM Lawyers
Helped our fast-growing business become what it is today
I've experienced PLI's approach first hand and it's been crucial to sustaining our growth.  I can't imagine a business that wouldn't benefit greatly from his help.
Brian Antenbring
Founder, TEEMA
Provided practical ways to make positive changes
Trevor was incredibly well-received by the entire organization. He was able to articulate people issues that many of our franchisees were experiencing and provided them with practical ways to make positive changes. We have implemented the Star Chart tool across the organization and see it as vital to building happy, effective teams.
Aaron Gillespie
President, COBS Bread
Scroll to Top

Start Learning Today

For Individuals

Unlock your potential and accelerate your career with sought-after management and leadership skills.


Transform Your Organization

For Teams

Book a consultation to discuss your challenges and discover how we can help you build a winning team.


Sign Up For Weekly Tips!

Get Weekly Coaching Tips Straight To Your Inbox Every Monday.