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  • E. Seppälä, C. Bradley

Handling Negative Emotions in a Way that’s Good for Your Team


How a leader manages negative emotions is critical in determining whether the outcome for the team will be positive or negative.

People tend to regulate their emotions in different ways: suppression, expression or reappraisal.

Suppression is what most people do: hide their feelings and pretend not to feel upset. While this is a popular strategy, it actually leads to a host of negative outcomes for the person: fewer close relationships, more negative emotions, less social support, lower satisfaction with life, poorer memory, and elevated blood pressure. On top, teams members are physiologically registering inauthenticity and it is setting off an alarm.

You might think that fully expressing our emotions may be a more effective strategy. Doing so, however, could also have destructive consequences. This can destroy confidence of team members, leaving them fearful and dejected.

Reappraisal of an emotional situation may be the most effective strategy. For example, you could remind yourself that there will be other opportunities, that team members are already disappointed and that, instead of more dejection, they need encouragement. You might acknowledge everyone’s disappointment but emphasize that the outcome of this setback depends on the team members determination to master this challenge and turn the game around. This reappraisal has positive impact on team climate, characterized by trust, communication, and motivation.

Reappraisal can seem difficult to do during times of crisis. Here’s a quick research-backed technique that can help you do so: Think about the problem as a challenge rather than as a threat.

To read the full HBR article, please click here.


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