Managing Your Attitude in Challenging Times


Over the past week, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to a project involving upcoming layoffs and the need for management to maintain measurable results. What is the variable for management to continue positive workplace cultures and targets? The solution became easily identifiable.. role modeled behavior that was positive and upbeat.

I used to work with a woman who encountered workplace roadblocks on a regular basis. In hindsight, the frequency of those roadblocks bordered on being ridiculous. At times the obstacles were justified and within other instances projects just weren’t given the necessary consideration. Throughout those days, both peers and managers would discuss empathy and openly question why she continued efforts to help departments demonstrating territorial behaviors. Consistently and regardless of the outcome, she never showed outward hints of personal frustration and a helping hand was routinely extended at the next opportunity.

We’ve all been involved in one of “those” situations. When your pet project is re-prioritized; when a customer or co-worker snaps at you unfairly; when a co-worker is laid off; or your boss assigns additional work when you’re already overloaded. In your personal life a reaction to stressful situations might be raising your voice or shutting down to feel sorry for yourself. At work those behaviors will seriously harm your professional reputation, as well as your primary reason for holding your position – productivity.

Stressful situations are realities in a workplace when facing budget cuts, staff layoffs or departmental changes. In those types of scenarios it may become difficult to manage your emotions while balancing workplace responsibilities. There is no middle ground – you must manage those emotions. Above all else remember these are the times emotional management is most important.  After all, if senior management is forced into making additional layoffs, they may choose to keep those who can handle their emotions and work well under pressure. The question then becomes how do you better handle your emotions and choose your reactions within bad situations? I’ll post some thoughts later.. in short, those best practices are grounded in your focusing on the “big picture”.

So why all the focus on negative emotions? Well, most people don’t need strategies for managing their positive emotions. After all, feelings of happiness, excitement, compassion or optimism typically don’t affect others in negative ways.  As long as you share positive emotions constructively and professionally, they’re great to have in the workplace!

The most common negative emotions experienced in the workplace are as follows:

  • Aggravation
  • Anxiety
  • Disappointment
  • Dislikes


    Aggravation usually occurs when you feel stuck, trapped or unable to move forward in some way. It may be caused by a stalled favorite project, a boss who doesn’t attend meetings on time or simply being on hold on the phone for a long time.

    Whatever the reason, it’s important to deal with feelings of aggravation quickly, because they can easily lead to more negative emotions, such as anger.Here are some suggestions for dealing with frustration:

    Stop and evaluate – One of the best things is to stop yourself and assess the situation. Why do you feel frustrated? Write it down and be specific. Then think of one positive thing about your current situation. It will help you to refocus your energies, relax and understand the big picture.

    Find something positive about the situation – Thinking about positive aspects of your situation often helps to consider things in a different way. This small change in your thinking may improve your mood. Don’t assume anyone is deliberately attempting to annoy you. And if it’s a quirk that’s bothering, it’s certainly not personal! Don’t get mad, just move on from to your next task.

    Remember the last time you felt frustrated – The last time you were frustrated the situation probably worked itself out, right? Your feelings of aggravation or irritation probably didn’t do much to solve the problem then, which means they’re not doing anything for you right now.


    There are always cases of fear and anxiety with increasing instances of layoffs. It’s understandable why many people worry about their jobs. This type of worry can easily get out of control if you allow it. This type of job insecurity can impact not only your mental health, but also your productivity and willingness to take risks at work.

    Try these tips to deal with worrying:

    Don’t surround yourself with worry and anxiety – Avoid meeting places where co-workers gossip and talk about job cuts or reassignments. Worrying tends to lead to more worrying and that’s never good.

    Try deep-breathing exercises – This helps slow breathing and your heart rate. Breathe in slowly for five seconds then breathe out slowly for five seconds. Focus on your breathing and nothing else. Do this at least five times, but no more than 10. 

    Focus on how to improve the situation – Sitting in fear of being laid off probably won’t help you keep your job. Instead, try brainstorm techniques to bring in new business and show your value to the company.

    When you’re worried and nervous about something, it can dent your self-confidence. Don’t let your worries get in the way of being appropriately assertive in the workplace.


    Dealing with disappointment or unhappiness at work can be difficult. Of all the emotions you experience at work, these are the most likely to impact your productivity. If you’ve just suffered a major disappointment, your energy may be low, you might be afraid to take another risk and all of that may hold you back from achieving.

    Here are some proactive steps you can take to cope with disappointment and unhappiness:

    Look at your mindset – Take a moment to realize setbacks won’t always go your way. If they did, life wouldn’t be filled with the unexpected situations and learning opportunities, right? And it’s the hills and valleys that often make life so interesting.

    Adjust your goal – If you’re disappointed you didn’t reach a goal it doesn’t mean the goal is out of reach. Make a small change even if it’s only a deadline.

    The Source – Is it a co-worker? Is it your job? Workload? Once you identify the problem, start discovering ways to solve it or work around it. Remember the power to change your situation is in your hands.

    Smile and dress professional – Strange as it may sound, forcing a smile face can often make you feel happier. And who doesn’t feel better about themselves when they look good?

    Make your bed – Before you leave for work make your bad. Start your day by completing a task that helps you relax at bedtime.


    We’ve probably all had to work with someone that isn’t exactly a favorite personality. We also need to understand it’s important to be professional at all times, no matter what.

    Here are some ideas for working with people you dislike:

    Show Respect – If you have to work with someone you don’t get along with, then it’s time to set aside your pride and ego. Treat the person with courtesy and respect, as you would treat anyone else. Just because this person behaves in an unprofessional manner, that doesn’t mean you should as well.

    Respectfully Assertive – If the other person is rude and/or unprofessional, then firmly explain you refuse to be treated that way and calmly leave the situation.

Before you finish that glass of orange juice this morning.. is it half empty or half full?

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