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Managing Employee Emotions: How to Quickly Identify an Employee Who “Just Needs a Minute” and How to React

The majority of daily activities and interactions are governed by the subconscious. This is why instinctive, emotional reactions are common during stressful situations. For someone like you with leadership responsibilities, maintaining self-control is necessary. The same principle applies to your team members. You need to help them take control of their thinking and behavior, especially when they get out of check. Here are some guidelines to determine when an employee needs a short break and how you can help them regain their composure. 

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Monitor Employee Behavior 

The subconscious helps interpret and evaluate perceptions. The source of these observations typically is past experiences, values, and influences from childhood and youth. These elements guide reactions and what people talk about. Learning to identify how and why you react in certain ways to specific events provides you with a better understanding of your team members’ actions and reactions. This can help you determine when an employee needs a quick break to regain their composure. For instance, they may have difficulty adapting to unforeseen problems, react angrily to bad news, or have emotional outbursts. Recognizing that reactions like these may occur is valuable for requesting the employee take a short break to regroup before losing self-control 

Discuss Strategies for SelfControl 

Suggest methods for your team member to maintain self-control during stressful situations. Planning ahead can be effective. For instance, “if X happens, be sure to do Y.” Customizing and internalizing a mental map can help determine a course of action for challenging situations. This can help maintain self-control during undesirable situations. Point out that remaining calm, focused, and flexible increases thought processes that lead to solutions.  

Recommend Action 

Provide guidance on actions the employee can take to regain control of their emotions. Suggestions include determining whether they are getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks, and eating healthy meals. Ask whether your team member goes outside to enjoy the daylight, drinks enough water, and has enough protein their diet. Recommend they take a quick walk to get some fresh air.  

Encourage Delayed Reaction 

Coach the employee to develop a habit of waiting to respond during emotionally charged situations. This includes not sending an email when angry and not confronting a colleague or tackling a complex issue when not feeling settled. Promote taking time to calm down before making decisions and taking action. Ensure the employee gathers all possible sources of information before responding 

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