Last Updated Oct 7, 2011 12:19 PM EDT
That's how the day started. In the afternoon, I gave blood. That didn't help one bit; I'm guessing it's the lower blood pressure. Then came the news about Steve Jobs. That made things much worse. Forget about getting any real work done after that.
Yup, mood swings are a bitch. There are lots of contributing factors and each one affects some people more than others. Moods affect our behavior and how we deal with situations in the workplace, just as they do everywhere else.
I suspect they have a far greater impact on your productivity, effectiveness, and yes, your career, than you might think. And the problem can be serious for those with management and leadership responsibility because moods can compromise decision-making.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way if you simply learn to manage your moods.
What Are Moods?
I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that, for most of you, moods are a reflection of your emotional state.
The rest of you aren't quite as in touch with your feelings and, if you can't quite identify the source of your mood, might interpret it as fear or anxiety. That, in turn, affects your mood. Different mechanism, same result.
In any case, moods are a function of a large number of factors that affect everyone differently: weather, sunlight, pain and discomfort, and of course, whatever's going on in your life and, therefore, inside your head, i.e. financial trouble, marital problems, whatever.
Some - artists and writers, for example - can learn to channel dark moods into great work. For most of you, that's decidedly not the case.
For most of you, failing to recognize that you're in a mood and compensate accordingly can result in reduced effectiveness or productivity, bad behavior in dealing with others, or poor decision-making, any of which can do irrevocable harm to your career or your company. Here are some tips on how to keep that from happening.
9 Ways to Manage a Bad Mood
1. Miles Davis said, "When you hit a wrong note it's the next note that makes it good or bad." If you're feeling moody or down, that, in and of itself, is of little consequence in the workplace. It's what you do next that matters. That's a key point.
2. Take some time to identify the source of your mood. If you're really busy or have hot stuff going on, all the more reason. This is so critical I can't stress it enough. Why? Because, moods are like road warning signs, like Slippery When Wet. It's critical information on what's going on in your head. If it's just the weather, fine, but what if it's not just that? You're always better off knowing.
3. You know how, when you have a medical procedure with general anesthesia they tell you not to make any important decisions that day? Same thing. Just don't. If you absolutely have to, ask someone you trust what he thinks. Don't go it alone.
4. In all likelihood, whatever's making you gloomy or bugging you is something out of your control. If you happen to be a controlling person or a control freak, you may seek to control or act out on someone you perceive you can control, i.e. an employee, coworker, vendor, etc. Why? Because, that's what people like you do. Don't do that.
5. If you can, take a long break and take a walk outside, get some exercise, or meditate. That'll help a lot. And don't let your mind over-process, i.e. cycle on stuff that's bugging you. Try to be present, in the moment; just observe without judging. That's called mindfulness. It works, big-time.
6. If you can't do 5, at least take a short break, eat something you like, call a good friend and chat, do something that might cheer you up. Keep this in mind: if you're gloomy, moody, or depressed over something serious, distraction won't help, certainly not in the long run. In that case, better deal with the problem sooner rather than later.
7. A reasonable amount of caffeine is fine. It's a great stimulant. But whatever you do, don't overdo it. You'll just get more anxious and moody. It's a fine line.
8. If all else fails, tell yourself this too shall pass. The problem with depression (not that moody = depression, but they can be related) is a feeling of helplessness, that nothing will change and the feeling will never go. If you feel that way for an extended period of time, get some help. Seriously.
9. Likewise, if the problem is chronic and affects your work and happiness more than you'd like, it won't kill you to see somebody about that. You'll be glad you did. Really.
- How to Conquer Your Fear and Self-Doubt ... Really
- 7 Signs You're Creating Your Own Workplace Stress
- Top 10 Reasons Why Smart People Do Dumb Things
Image hardleers via Flickr