Mood begins with an awareness of cause-effect relationships. You need to connect how you feel to how you think. By paying closer attention to incremental changes in your outlook, you can identify what’s influencing your thoughts.
Take these steps to tame routine mood swings in yourself and others:
Establish your baseline. Rather than let your moods run amok, treat them like a science experiment. When you think or act negatively and suspect that you may be on the verge of making a bad decision, monitor your feelings, dissect your approach and adjust your behavior.
“If you’re nervous, you may get overly defensive or see more danger than is there,” says Christine Padesky, a clinical psychologist in Newport Beach, Calif. “If you’re angry, you may be more likely to punish someone harshly. If you’re down, you may be more doubtful, leading you to be overly cautious.
“And if you’re very happy, you may gloss over problems.”
Rate your moods. If you want to stabilize your emotional highs and lows, assign a percentage to a particular mood at a given time. For example, if you’re feeling very frustrated, give yourself an 80 percent rating. Then take steps to drive that number below, say, 50 percent.
Avoid labels. When you sense that someone is moody, keep it to yourself. Don’t say, “You seem to be on edge” or “You’re really on a high, aren’t you?” And don’t crack a cynical joke such as “You’re a bundle of joy today.”
Such comments not only can make someone self-conscious, but they can trigger resentment and outright argument. Others may not appreciate, much less agree with, your characterization.
Cut the gossip. If your boss acts moody, don’t spread the word. Despite your good intention to warn colleagues, it can get back to your supervisor. And you don’t want to face an even angrier boss who says, “I heard you were telling people I was unapproachable. What gives?”
Reward good moods. When employees reach an even keel, give them more responsibility. Also, express appreciation for their professional attitude.