When Kelly Ripa was blindsided by the news that Michael Strahan, co-host of Live! With Michael and Kelly, was leaving the show to move to Good Morning America, it opened up a larger conversation about workplace respect.
“There’s a part of me that can say, ‘O.K., I understand. This may have been an oversight,’” Ripa told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. Still, she says the incident underlines the importance of employees being treated with dignity. “I think that all people are deserving of fair treatment in the work place,” Ripa told PEOPLE. “People deserve respect.”
While most people won’t have to deal with their workplace frustrations so publicly, everyone encounters times when they wish their employer would have handled a situation differently. Here’s what I’d recommend when you find yourself in this scenario.
1. Take time to separate your thoughts from your emotions
Next time you find yourself in a tough spot at work, instead of jumping to an emotional reaction, take a step back to think critically about the situation and how you feel so that you can respond thoughtfully. In Kelly’s situation, and in many other frustrating work-oriented situations, emotion regulation—the ability to successfully control your emotions in a stressful situation—will be your most powerful ally. Sure, it may be appropriate to feel angry, but lashing out in the moment removes your sense of control and ultimately hinders your ability to stay focused and make the right decision.
In Kelly’s case, she knew she had to take time to gather her thoughts. By regulating her emotions, which is a key factor of resilience, Kelly was able to regain control of the situation and avoid spiraling out of control. She demonstrated that anger can be a vehicle to action rather than just a self-destructing state.
2. Don’t fall into common thinking traps
Life’s complications can, without a doubt, be maddening. The reality, however, is that we can make our problems seem more insurmountable than they really are through falling into thinking traps—habitual faulty shortcuts our brains make to process a situation. Reverting to habits is easy, and when we’re stressed, we seek easy. Ironically, these mental habits make things worse and more stressful. There’s personalizing (“It’s all my fault!”), pessimism (“This is not going to end well!”), externalizing (“It’s all their fault!”) and so on. When you feel yourself falling into one of these traps, try approaching the situation subjectively—and more often than not, you’ll find that your thoughts are just plain wrong! Re-orienting your negatively hardwired brain to see the situation for what it really is will help you effectively manage and respond to the situation.
3. Manifest a culture of respect
Companies that are ruled by their values prevail—it’s as simple as that. While most companies have a set of values that are spelled out in an employee handbook, the true values come to life every day through how we communicate and relate to one another in the workplace. As an employer, supporting employees so they feel a sense of control and drive towards a shared mission should be top of mind. If you create a workplace culture where employees feel a sense of purpose, recognized for their contributions and connected to the company’s goals, a culture of respect will follow suit.
Will you walk in to your office tomorrow morning and receive a job-altering announcement? Probably not. But what we saw unfold on our TVs with Kelly Ripa is that workplace culture is more than just a one-pronged approach. Through watching the Ripa Effect, we saw the importance of holding communication, respect and resiliency to the highest standards—regardless of if your boss is ABC or not. And for that, we salute you, Kelly.
Jan Bruce is the cofounder and CEO of meQuilibrium.