A study by a research group that includes Pamplin management associate professor Daniel Beal suggests that curbing your emotions at work leads to less productive and less collaborative work environments. Beal’s research suggests that teaching employees to manage their emotions more effectively can increase the amount of bandwidth that employees have for interacting with others throughout the day.

At the workplace, most employees aim for a balance of focusing on their own tasks and offering help to others- a balance which is often determined by how worn out they are on that given day. As employees try to conserve their mental resources, they become less likely to offer a helping hand to others. It’s easy for the daily ‘requirement’ of seeming friendly, courteous, helpful, and kind to drive already tired employees away from their co-workers.

So what can be done?  According to Beal, it’s all about finding better strategies. Encouraging employees to focus on improving their perspective of challenging situations, rather than glossing over them, is one example. Beal’s research has also found that taking “micro-breaks” throughout the workday to be effective in replenishing a foggy mind.

Beal’s co-authored study, “Too Drained to Help: A Resource Depletion Perspective on Daily Interpersonal Citizenship Behaviors,” was published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Read related article.