Unhappy Project Manager: Control Your Negative Emotions

Paul Naybour

Here we look at a couple of different negative emotions you might feel at work as a project manager, and how to deal with those emotions so you remain professional and are not an unhappy project manager.





Perhaps you feel like you are in a situation you can’t get out of, you cannot manoeuvre out of it at all. Maybe your manager is putting the brakes on your project (which you are really enjoying), maybe a team member keeps turning up late and putting everyone behind, or maybe you’ve just been waiting for your train for ages. Frustration can be caused by any number of things and at the most stressful of times, the slightest thing. Whatever your reason for feeling frustrated, you need to deal with those feelings quickly before they easily slip into more aggressive feelings. To deal with frustration you could:


Detach – You could simply go to a nice place in your head. Breathe and let yourself be removed from the situation for a small time (discreetly of course) until the feelings of frustration have passed.


Change Your Perspective – Could it be possible that this situation is actually really positive. Can you find a way to see what is happening from a different angle, so it is actually not so bad after all.


Don’t Take It Personally – Often we can get frustrated because we are taking something someone does personally. Try to detach yourself from the situation and remember that what is happening isn’t personal to you.


Remember The Sooner You Can Act Rationally, The Sooner It Will Be Over – When we act frustrated we often end up making the task take longer because we aren’t thinking straight. Try to remember that the sooner you relax, the sooner you can navigate out of the situation.


Breathe – Sometimes we just need to breathe to get ourselves calm again. Take four breaths in and four out again, really slowly.




Being worried or nervous is normal in project management. In the beginning when you are fresh from basic project management training you don’t know the ropes, you feel like you don’t know what you are doing, you’re scared. But further down the line it never really changes because you are always working with new people and taking on new challenges. Worrying though, is not beneficial and it can easily get on top of you, affecting your work and personal life. A worried PM is not decisive, does not take calculated risks and does not see the bigger picture. To deal with worry try:

  • Avoid Anxious Conversations – Don’t spend time with people who feed your anxiety. Maybe some of your colleagues sit around and talk doom and gloom – get away from those people and be with the happy, positive people.
  • Detach Yourself – If you get sucked in to your own mind throwing loads of worrying things at you, you are going to get into anxiety overload. Try to detach yourself from the situation and gain a bit of perspective – right here, right now, you are living and breathing and there is nothing to be worried about.
  • Breathe – Just like anger, sometimes breathing will help the feelings you are struggling with dissolve. Breathe in for four and out for four as slowly as you can.
  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a great way to handle worry, as it focuses you on the here, now and what is, not on the what could be.
  • Taking The Worries Away – Try writing your worries down so you don’t dwell on them, or remove the source of the worry if possible.

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