How do you keep emotions--fear, anger, frustration--from derailing your career?

The Problem. Anya was almost hysterical on the phone. Her new manager, Meeta, gave her a "not meeting expectations" rating on her annual review and discussed putting Anya on a Performance Improvement Plan. Meeta also said that Anya would need additional training.

As soon as Anya saw the performance review document, she began to spiral down emotionally. By the time she called me, Anya was in the grips of an emotional hijack that triggered deep fear; she was not able to think clearly.

According to Anya, when she met with Meeta to discuss her review, Meeta did not seem willing to listen. Apparently, Anya had completed the assignments now being given a "not meeting expectations rating" prior to her new manager's arrival. Her former manager had even congratulated Anya on an outstanding job and sent her an email saying so, but that feedback had not been shared with Meeta. Clearly, Anya had the responsibility to show Meeta the completed work and the prior manager's communication about the results, but she had not done this because she was angry about the situation, offended by Meeta's direct, confident communication, and afraid for her job. In short, Anya was overwhelmed by her emotions.

The Coach's Solution. I suggested Anya ask for another meeting to discuss the review.  When Anya requested the meeting, Meeta invited the Human Resources Manager to attend. Anya to wondered if they planned to fire her.  

I told Anya that she had to demonstrate that she did meet the expectations earlier in the year and create a new conversation to ask for what she wanted.  I instructed Anya to produce the emails from her prior boss and coached her to begin the conversation by saying, "You've offered developmental training, and I am very interested in that possibility.  First, I would like to direct your attention to these emails from my prior boss. I did complete the tasks that were rated as incomplete; here is the proof from emails that my prior manager sent to me. I am requesting that the rating be changed on my current review due to these facts. If you still believe I need development training, I am willing to take the actions you recommend to develop my abilities."

The Result.  Much to Anya's surprise, Meeta and the HR manager agreed to change the review. To make that happen, I had to teach Anya how to process through her fear and harness her anger so she could stand up for herself.  Learning to work through emotions helped Anya to get her career back on track, and since it dramatically changed how Anya felt about her work and her new boss, it made new collaborations possible.

Want to learn how you can rule your emotions instead of letting them rule you?

Contact me to conduct a 360 Emotional Intelligence survey to find out how people around you experience your emotional intelligence. This assessment survey will show how you are doing in each of the abilities of emotional intelligence and guide you to know which areas to focus your own development on.  For more details email me at

Look for my new book Conversations That Get Results and Inspire Collaboration: Engage Your Team, Your Peers, and Your Manager to Take Action due out in April.