What is emotional control? A key skill in the workplace

21/05/2023 | Santander Universidades

67% of companies are looking to recruit employees with emotional intelligence skills, according to the study Emotional Intelligence and Leadership by Norwich University. Indeed, possessing good emotional control is a key attribute for success at work, even more so than technical skills.

American psychologist and writer, Daniel Goleman, author of the book Working with Emotional Intelligence, states that “People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity." 

In the workplace, when you recognise what you're feeling and what sort of mood you're in, you can avoid a lot of conflict for example, in interpersonal relationships with colleagues. If you want to find out what emotional control is and what benefits this can bring, we explain all below.

En un entorno laboral, cuando reconoces lo que sientes y cuál es tu estado de ánimo, puedes evitar muchos conflictos en las relaciones interpersonales, por ejemplo, con los compañeros de trabajo. Si quieres saber cómo puedes aprender a gestionar tus emociones y qué beneficios aporta, te lo explicamos a continuación.

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What is emotional control?

Emotional control is all about managing our emotions and behaviour to control both the positive and negative emotions and thus express these in an appropriate way. 

However, to improve emotional control, it's vital to develop or enhance your emotional intelligence. University professors Peter Salovey and John Meyer, the first to develop a theory about emotional intelligence and establish the criteria for its measurement, define it as “the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth

Certainly, analysts are increasingly looking into whether it's possible that employees with well-developed emotional intelligence achieve better results for their companies. In this same vein, several empirical studies have already reached the conclusion that "employees who are ‘smart’ with their emotions tend to be more efficient and effective in their interactions."

For example, a study conducted by American psychologist David McClelland found that companies with sharper emotional intelligence skills, in particular related to self-motivation, social awareness and social skills, were able to exceed their revenue targets by 15% to 20% per year.


The benefits of emotional control at work

Now that you know what emotional control is, it’s time to find out what benefits for both staff and the company itself brings. Some of the advantages of honing emotional intelligence in the workplace are:

  • Increased productivity: employees with higher levels of emotional intelligence perform up to 25% better at work, as one Dallas-based company points out. 
  • Greater stability: one of the Fortune 500 companies conducted emotional intelligence assessments on its staff and found that the turnover rate at companies drops the higher the emotional intelligence of their employees. In this same study, they analysed some of their emotional skills, such as stress management, self-awareness and social skills, and through these, managed to reduce turnover by 67%.
  • Job satisfaction: when a company repositions its employees in line with their levels of emotional intelligence, staff achieve better results in their work because they feel more satisfied at doing a job suited to their characteristics.
  • Increased sales: in the same Fortune magazine study mentioned above, they conclude that workers with high levels of emotional intelligence were able to increase their product sales by 50%.
  • Better handling of difficult situations: besides suffering fewer workplace accidents, staff with higher emotional control scores are better at dealing with difficult situations, and make better decisions.
  • Enhanced customer service: professionals who work on their emotional intelligence are more open, friendly and affable with others, because they are able to verbalise their emotions, empathise and combine emotion and reasoning.

6 techniques to manage your emotions

There are many studies on controlling emotions in the workplace. Psychologists, teachers and authors of specialised journals agree that it's only possible to deal with certain situations or problems through emotional self-control. Here are a few techniques to make your working day a success:

Know yourself

We need to observe and get to know ourselves in order to become aware of the emotions we feel. It's vital to recognise these, identify and label them.

Seek the root cause of your emotions

Not everyone reacts in the same way to our lived experiences, but one important step to controlling what we feel is to pinpoint what triggers us: what is causing your frustration, your fear, your anger?

Likewise, it's essential not to fight these emotions. Instead, take a deep breath and accept that you're experiencing that emotion. As professors Elena Quevedo and Fernando Díez Ruiz say, "Stopping, taking stock of what gives us pause for thought, breathing, accepting that we are in that mood, and harnessing our minds to switch to a more organic, healthier option is the first step in the challenge of emotional control. This allows us to make progress towards the second stage, the interpersonal level, the emotions that connect us with others and which make team work so high-yield, as well as bringing about a feeling of wellbeing and gratitude”.

Distract your mind 

When you are feeling overwhelmed or are experiencing negative emotions, you need to find a way to detach yourself from these and focus your mind on less harmful thoughts.


This technique helps to prevent the most negative feelings, to control impulses and to reduce the intensity of emotions.

Perform mental rehearsals

Visualise a situation and act it out as though it were real. For example, if you have to give a speech to your staff in a week's time, and it's making you anxious and worried, then visualise the speech and notice how you feel. This can help you to correct or prevent certain emotions.

Do relaxation exercises 

Stress and anxiety levels drop notably when we do physical exercise or practice muscle relaxation techniques. So close your eyes, let your body relax and wait a few minutes. If you do this once a day, you'll be able to better handle your emotions.


Everyday life can be a source of stress and emotional turmoil. However, through observation, analysis and meditation, we can improve our emotional control and achieve success in the workplace. There are no ifs and buts about it: developing emotional skills such as emotional self-control, is essential for your personal development as well as vital in the modern workplace, where such skills, also known as soft skills, are increasingly in-demand and, in many cases, give that all-important edge to any professionals who are willing to take on new and unending challenges.

So, to help people progress, overcome the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution, and grow in an inclusive and sustainable way, Banco Santander is committed to three key concepts: lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling. To support this commitment, it has created the Santander Open Academy website, a unique and pioneering global programme. 

If you would like to keep growing personally and professionally, head over to the Santander Open Academy website, where you'll find 100s of opportunities to train together with internationally renowned institutions. Access training in technology, languages, research, investigation, soft skills, internships and female leadership, which will help you to improve your employability or refocus your career.


Do you want to become a lifelong learner and increase your job opportunities? The Santander Open Academy website has plenty of options to help you achieve your goals. Check out the website and remember: you can sign up for as many courses as you like. Make the most of this opportunity!

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