In a recent post about emotional boundaries in the workplace, I shared my thoughts and practical strategies on how to engage with co-workers.
In our workplaces we tend to engage with people whose nature feels ‘like us’, making it easy to get along and get comfortable. On the other hand, we will not engage with people whose energy feels ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’… that is, not like us (by nature). One helpful way to approach everyone we meet is through the lens of being an ‘emotion scientist’ that is open to others and is curious rather than critical.
I wanted to re-share some of these strategies so you can try them out in the workplace.
Here Are Some Strategies On How To Get Even Better At Keeping Emotional Boundaries
- If the drama doesn’t involve you and you want to engage with the individual, you can set yourself up for success by using a regulation strategy to bring yourself to a place of calm. Try to listen and empathize and ask if your co-worker wants your help in problem-solving or strategizing. Bring yourself to a place of calm first. Talking in a calm voice is one way to co-regulate (help your co-worker calm down), as emotions are contagious.
- If the drama does involve you, and the conversation becomes unconstructive or a power struggle, opt out. Find your own words for stopping the endless back and forth, like this: “I hear you, but we are going to have to agree to disagree. I appreciate you are feeling that way, but I can’t have a conversation when emotions are so heated. Let’s revisit this another time.”
- Beware of the empathy trap, spending too much time in your co-worker’s shoes.
- If you find yourself going round and round the same dramatic narrative, let your co-worker know you care but you don’t think you really are being helpful.
Some Other Useful Strategies You Can Consider Are:
- Ask if your co-worker might want to do something to distract themselves or focus on something else
- Ask your co-worker if they would like to hear about strategies you use when you are activated
- Mention that you’ve noticed venting often isn’t that helpful
- Mention that you have work you need to get done
- If appropriate, point out that they may need to talk to a professional
Think about the ways you are already handling these moments and what is working and what is not. I recommend taking a look at the suggestions above and try them out. And, as you proceed, notice barriers in your way.
I would also recommend reading Marc Brackett’s book Permission to Feel and my book The Gaslight Effect, as well as the points highlighted above. And , finally, please be sure to include yourself in the circle of people you have compassion for. You deserve your own attention and self-care.
Robin Stern Tackles ‘Emotional Boundaries’ With The Help Of Oji Life Lab
Robin Stern is one of the founding advisors for Oji Life Lab, a digital learning system for organizations which helps people develop essential emotional intelligence skills that drive performance in the workplace and in life.
With the help of bite-sized emotional learning right from a smartphone app, Oji learners can benefit from:
- Expert videos from Marc Brackett & me
- The Mood Meter Tool
- Live video discussions led by an Oji Coach
- And a whole lot more!
To learn more about Oji Life Lab, visit: http://www.ojilifelab.com/