Sanjeev Kotnala: You control the emotions or they control you!

30 Nov,2016

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Like you are pregnant, or you are not. There is nothing called half-pregnancy. There is nothing like, in partial control of emotions. The grey does not exist. You are in control or you are not.


None of us have a professional or personal life where everything is fine. Perfection is anyway a work-in-progress, so is satisfaction and happiness.


It is said, ‘Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way’.


It is the reaction that dictates who is in control; you or the emotion.

We all have walked that road. We have been disappointed with results, unmatched expectation, unfair interactions, biased evaluation, misplaced credits and lot of such episodes in life.

We as part of our DNA have a choice to Flight, Fight or freeze. It is so easy in the personal life to decide to sulk or shout or to ignore or sometimes take the best option; no action. Professional life does not allow you this freedom. Because every action is going to reflect and impact in your ‘BRAND-i’, the net emotion / perception people have about you.

Managerial work environment is a lot full of stress. Moreover, you are mostly working in a team where the efficiencies and competencies are being balanced, expertise and labour units being negotiated. It can become a nightmare if you do not have emotions in control. It may define when and if at all you get kicked to a bigger role and responsibility.


No matter what the situation is, one is always free to choose how to react.

There is a simple way to improve yourself in handling of emotions. It is about rightly choosing reactions to situations? Most of us believe that the positive emotions like joy, excitement, achievement, celebration and empathy are easy to control. They anyway rarely have an adverse impact. We end up trying to manage negative emotions.

According to the research by Professor Cynthia Fisher at Bond University in 1997 titled “Emotions at Work: What Do People Feel, and How Should We Measure It?*” the most common negative emotions experienced at the workplace were frustration/irritation, worry/nervousness, anger/aggravation, dislike and disappointment/unhappiness.

Now, each of us has our own set ways to evaluate and react to these emotions. Here are some more suggested ways and what works for someone else, may not work for you. So choose with caution, it’s your life, it’s your ‘BRAND-i’


FRUSTRATION is one of the most common emotions. As a tribe we over estimate our capability and build expectations. So, when we get stuck or trapped and are unable to move forward or are dependent on others for success, we feel frustrated.

Now, here is a word of caution. It is better and recommended to try tackling frustration quickly at the nascent stage, or it can blow up into something more lethal and negative, maybe like anger or revenge.

Stopping and evaluating is a right place to start with. Check yourself and your reaction. Ladder your cause to find out, what is that is really irritating you? Be precise and note it down. Then try thinking positively or finding something good in it. This will help you look at the situation differently.

The small shift in outlook has the potential to change your reaction. It may change your mood. It may make you realise that it isn’t something intentionally being done. And it is not definitely something personal.

Many people find it easy and effective to remember a situation where they felt irritated and frustrated initially, but the situation worked out well. This makes the anxiety levels go down as the mind is tricked into lowering the risk evaluation.


NERVOUSNESS.. There are many reasons for worry. Important ones are insecurity and lack of expertise or capabilities to deliver what is expected. This can get out of hand and lead to lower performance and a decreased willingness to take additional responsibilities or risk.

Worry amplifies when you surround yourself with it. It can dent your confidence and self-esteem. So, in addition to finding and then working to bridge the knowledge, skill gap, you can try being with people with positive attitude.

You may try the age-old trick of controlled slow breathing. Breathing slowly for 5-6 seconds and breathing out equally slow is known to slow down heart rate. It does not do anything to the situation other than making you more in control of your reaction. Post this concentrate on improving the situation.


ANGER is one of the most brutal and destructive emotions. At work, this could be a career limiting emotion. Fact is that most of us do not handle our anger well. It is an internal emotion which finally ends up in an external manifestation. So, it is you who recognizes its buildup within you. You know the signs. And it is only you who can take steps to stop your anger early enough to control.

If you fail in controlling it early, stop doing what you are doing and take deep breaths. It works as it breaks your chain of thoughts. Here is when you have to think positively.

One of the simple tricks is to visualize yourself angry. See it from an external point of view. How do you look? What are you doing? How does it impact your surrounding and your BRAND-i? You will find that this sudden short visualization is good enough to put brakes in your anger. Bet, you can’t do this without getting irritated with yourself.


DISLIKE. We are human being and hence we are selective in our like and dislike. Sometime there is a reason for it and many times there is no real reason to dislike someone. In work, you do not have full control of who all you will work or meet. So be respectful. Set aside your pride, ego and prejudice. Deal with the situation professionally.

If you do not like someone’s approach, and the person is unprofessional. Just because you are in a team does not mean that you have to copy or mirror the approach. Explain your stance and leave calmly. Remember to follow ‘CYAUYH’- Cover your ass using your head. Let it be known to right set of people your reason and logic for this step.


DISAPPOINTMENT is the toughest to deal with. It impacts us overall and productivity at work. We get drained of our energy and positivity. It works negatively on us, and we hold ourselves back.

Remember you are not perfect. All things will not go your way. Failure and success are two outcomes, and you are bound to encounter both. It is not a leveled straight road. Professional life is full of twist and turns and ups and downs.

Adjust to the situation and / or adjust the expectations. Then instead of trying to find out what went wrong, it may be better to see it with a different lens. Try understanding what you could have done better to make the situation work for you. So, learn from the situation and move forward.

Write down, what happened and what should have happened. I find it interesting and relevant to write, “What I have learnt from the episode take a lesson for future and snap out of it”. Remember, you always have the power to change your situation but in the future. What happened is now just a story. You cannot change any character or episode and hence why live in the past. Go ahead, define your future, define your BRAND-i .

Laugh or smile. It is tough to weep while you laugh and feel sad / disappointed when you are smiling. This is a simple key to your body. So when you feel disappointed, please go ahead laugh or smile, it will definitely help.



Sanjeev Kotnala is a Brand and marketing advisor, trainer, facilitator and ACF accredited coach. He has over 30 years of corporate experience He runs a unique workshop ‘BRAND-i’ that teaches you to treat yourself as a brand. Other special workshops by him are IDEAHarvest ( Ideation), Liberate ( inclusive processes) and InNoWait ( Innovation Now and here) Email – tweet – @s_kotnala web: Blog – and


*© Copyright Cynthia D. Fisher and the School of Business, Bond University.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories