The typical work life of Legal Secretaries or Legal PAs, especially those working with top executives, is very challenging, time constraining and full of trying relationships often resulting from conflicts of interest. Universally, it is believed that ineffective communication, unhealthy competition, personality clashes, conflicting interests, jealousy, time constraints and unclarified assumptions are the major causes of conflict. Oftentimes, when conflict is not well managed, our emotions are negatively affected, as it leads to confusion, frustration and demotivation. Conversely, where it is constructive and properly managed, it becomes a healthy tool for achieving greater performance, creativity and higher productivity.
Emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realising it. In our career lives, we all have, at one time or another, been faced with situations when our contributions were not commensurately recognised and rewarded; when our best friends (co-workers) were suddenly laid off; when customers or clients snapped unfairly; when we were assigned more work despite being already overloaded and in the midst of it all, we had to contend with co-workers who were uncooperative, in the face of nasty customers/clients who never want to hear any explanation, especially when there is a service failure. In situations like these, there is always the tendency for one to feel bad and tensed up, because feelings are much like waves; we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.
There are copious tips we can use to manage our emotions, including the following:
- Understand Yourself (Emotions): The first step to better managing your emotions is to have a perfect understanding of your feelings. By recognising your feelings on a conscious level, you are better positioned to control them the moment they show up, thereby giving no room for them to build up in intensity. According to scientists, emotions have been classified into a few basics that everyone can recognise: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger and anticipation. In your most quiet moment of relaxation, take some time to reflect on your past, with reference to these basics. If possible, pen situations or circumstances that easily affect your emotions negatively. Such knowledge helps.
- Be Open-Minded: Oftentimes when unpleasant things happen, we get carried away to the extent of blowing things out of proportion. We must learn to always look at situations rationally and objectively. Everything you can ever think of, expect or understand comes from your memory of the past, which could either be positive or negative. If you are having issues with a particular member of staff, family member or friend, ask yourself if other members of staff or colleagues are feeling the same way and be very sincere about it. It could be that these problems actually stem from your inability to manage or relate well to others. Self-examination is therefore very important. We must also learn to make wise choices. For everything that happens, good or bad, we always have two or more better ways to react. Your emotions will always control you the moment you believe there is only one way to react to situations. Never take things too personally.
- Understand Your Environment: In addition to everyone on the surface of this earth having three lives (family life, work life and spiritual life), we are told by management experts that we have different kinds of resources: material, financial, opportunities, human resources, etc. and that of these resources, human resources are the most difficult to manage. This is because as humans we have feelings; we think and can react to situations. Therefore, to avoid having your emotions control you, there is a need to understand the attitude and character of every member of your family, your co-workers and your immediate boss in the office. Having this knowledge, you are better armed to be in perfect control of your emotions at every point in time. Delight yourself in studying people and how they react to situations, especially those you have dealings with.
- Open Up: A problem shared is a problem half-solved. Try as much as possible to discuss your problems with trusted friends and professional colleagues. You are not bound to take their advice, but it could help a great deal. Where possible, engage those concerned in a discussion and politely express your feelings with regard to their actions towards you. You might be surprised at their response, as they may never have known those things offend you.
- Learn to Pray: Pray without ceasing. Pray especially for anyone you know who gives you a tough time, either at work or at home. This might be a difficult thing to do for many but it is the surest way to manage one’s emotions. I know we hold different religious beliefs, but generally, you will agree with me that it is impossible to pray for someone who offended you and whose offences you are not ready for forgive. From my experience, praying out of a sincere heart frees one’s mind of every evil intention and keeps one pure and emotionally stable.
Just this morning, a very close professional colleague of mine died. He was not sick; he was in the office yesterday working as hard as ever! He left work like every other person and on his way home, he slumped suddenly and passed away. We can’t say what really went wrong! But, for us who are still living, let’s always remember, our lives are more important than everything else. Of course, we need to work hard to earn enough to satisfy our desires, but in working hard, we mustn’t allow anything or anyone to affect our emotions so negatively.
Formal education is not designed to teach us all these things! However, such can be learnt on the job, through personal experiences and those of professional colleagues. So, when you are next tried emotionally, remember you owe yourself a responsibility – make yourself happy and fulfilled!
See you at the top!