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5 ways to stay calm and carry on

5 ways to stay calm

Bad day? How to control your responses, and not let your emotions control you.

We’ve all had bad days – and bad interactions with other people. You know the ones – where you feel the prickle of anger or upset, surges of frustration or even crushing levels of disappointment. These sometimes overwhelming feelings are the result of people or events triggering an emotional response, and we all have different triggers. And they are unhelpful, unproductive and get in the way. At an adult, professional level we know that reacting and allowing these emotions to take over doesn’t look good – and is unlikely to further any career prospects.


So, in order to get calm, keep calm, and move forward in a productive and healthy way, we need to find a way to handle these triggers. In our Emotional Intelligence training we ask people what coping techniques they have developed. Here are some of their suggestions:

1. If you’ve identified a trigger, try to avoid it. 
At its most basic, if you’re irritated by having to queue for the lift – and you’re physically able – take the stairs. Or if a person you’re not too keen on keeps trying to distract you with idle chit chat, try moving seats and putting some distance between you.

2. Talk about it – calmly 
Ok, so sometimes avoiding a co-worker just isn’t possible, and you are expected to work well with all of your colleagues. In that case, you need to deal with it by taking them to one side and asking them to change their behaviour. Focus on facts, and how what they are doing impacts on you – try not to make things personal. If someone talks loudly, explain that it makes it harder for you to concentrate and ask him or her to speak a bit more quietly. If someone constantly interrupts you with ‘urgent’ things (that aren’t), explain that this knocks you off track. If it’s someone you manage, maybe you can suggest setting up a regular meeting instead.

3. Accept them – or it 
There are of course going to be times when having a talk doesn’t work. You can only ask other people to change their behaviour – you can’t make them do it. This means you need to find a way to accept what’s happening and move on. Try reframing the issue – are you going to be worried, angry or upset about it tomorrow, next week, next month? What about next year? Looking at the bigger picture can help keep things in context.


4. Accept yourself 
We can be our own worst enemies. Sometimes the cause of worry or frustration is ourselves. Making mistakes, getting things wrong or not delivering the winning pitch –can all cause bitter disappointment and unnecessary levels of self loathing. Wallowing in self-pity, or beating yourself up is not productive. Try and focus on learning – what can you do differently next time? What are the positives you can take from this situation? Also, perhaps you need to review your standards – being practically perfect at all times just isn’t reasonable. You may need to accept that sometimes ‘good enough’ really is good enough. Focus on what’s important, and don’t attempt to do everything

5. Be ready 
When we are tired, worn out or busy these triggers will often take an even firmer grip on us, making it hard to step back and manage them. This is why it is really important to look after yourself. Stay healthy to increase your resilience. Surround yourself with loved ones, talk it out with a friend, take time out to spend with the people that matter the most. And remember, just because something is out of your control, this doesn’t mean your feelings are not legitimate.


It’s OK to feel bad at times, and the best remedy is to take some form of control and take action. At work it is not OK to simply react to feelings in an unproductive way. Try different strategies, and find the one that works best for you.

What’s next?

Want to know more? Our Emotional Intelligence one-day training programme – available in-house – will provide you with practical tools and techniques to manage your emotions at work, feel confident and motivated in challenging situations, and maintain a positive emotional balance.

For more on this course or to speak to one of our Learning & Development Consultants about any of the techniques above call +44(0) 20 7978 1516 or email

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Yvette Gyles

About Yvette Gyles

Yvette specialises in leadership, personal effectiveness, change and innovation. Before joining =mc, she worked in HR for several years in both the private and charity sector as an HR...