It happens: so much to do, so little time. Maybe someone deflated your balloon with their negativity. Perhaps you’ve been feeling like you’re spinning your wheels trying to implement 90 billion things and are frustrated. Its no secret that we all have bad days, and mine was yesterday. But as the old adage goes ‘life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you deal with it.’

So, what to do when you’ve just had it and feel the anger/frustration/sadness rising in your body? Here’s what got me through, and gets me through.

1. Talk to someone you work with and can trust. Sure we can all bond together and commiserate but no one really gets what its like at your work place except those who work there. I’m not saying to talk to anyone who’ll listen, but be smart about who you choose to have a ‘session’ with. Get it all out. Find out whats really irking you. I find that usually something else comes up that I had no idea was bothering me. Its OK to turn this into a bitch session: better you get it out than take it out on someone.

2. Put things into perspective. Has a final decision been made? Will this change anything in the long run? Can you find a way to put a positive spin on this no matter how hard it may be to take? Take time to think about what you can actually do to make the situation better for all involved. Never lose sight of the final goal. Basically: be humble.

3. Chill Out. Seriously. Its not the end of the world, no matter what it is. From choosing a vendor, to losing your job, there is always a bright side. The hard part is finding it and accepting it. Take a walk. Get a coffee. Remove yourself from the situation for a while and take a few long deep breaths. The worst thing you can do is get worked up over something and let it affect your professionalism and interactions with colleagues. Don’t let something stupid or otherwise unpleasant make you appear less than what you are.

4. Talk honestly, unbiased and politically with the powers that be. Let them know how you feel in a soft but respected way. Put it out on the table and then be done with it. Have points and reasoning in a casual conversation. Don’t belabour the topic in a whiny I-want-my-way tone. If you can have this conversation in this way – which is a skill in itself in some organizations, I know – then you’ll diffuse the tension everyone feels and be able to move forward in a positive manner.

5. Never – ever – take it home with you. Just like they say couples should never go to bed angry, I feel employees should never leave work with it heavy on their mind. I’m not saying you don’t think about work, the TON of work you have sitting on your desk or to not respond to emails via handheld. I’m saying save the drama for your mama. Don’t walk out the door – and into your home life – with that heavy anger or frustration. You cant solve it at home, why unload it there?

If all else fails, run/walk/bike/row/kickbox it out. :)

How do you deal with frustrations in the work place? Do you have a person you can talk to and know they wont use the vulnerability against you?

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4 Comments

  1. Sage advice. Regarding point No. 1 — talking to someone — I would add that sometimes it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust who also can give you a different perspective. Sometimes it’s important to hear from someone who doesn’t share your views on a subject.

    As far as running, walking, biking, rowing and kickboxing it out — I’m all for that. If I don’t get a run in — even a half-assed one — I can be surly with a capital “S.”

  2. jjmconsult says:

    Well thought out and written article

  3. Well done. I’ve found #2 very helpful: I used to get all riled up over every decision, but I’ve learned to step back and realize that Plan B generally won’t be so bad. Often, it’s better than the Plan A in the long run. Remembering that what’s best for everyone is/should be our goal also helps sometimes.

    I like the analogy of #5 too. Good perspective. Though I find eating baked goods also helps a lot!

  4. TimN, I’m also a fan of crunchy snacks at the office. Something about biting down on a pretzel or carrot stick and hearing that snack is a great tension reliever.

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