As rewarding as our jobs can be, unless you work in a bubble you likely have to deal with irritating situations involving grating coworkers, challenging projects, and other stressors. How you react to these situations on a daily basis can reflect positively or negatively on your ability to get that promotion or be tapped for a leadership role. It can also greatly inhibit communication or even be a career ender.
So how do you keep your cool when it feels like someone (or something) is dancing on your last nerve? Holding in your negativity will only work for so long before it manifests itself in one way or another. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you expel some irritation and manage your daily frustrations:
Do: Channel your inner “Sherlock.”
In the Latest Sherlock Holmes series put out by PBS, Sherlock Holmes had a mind palace where he would go to distract himself. Whether you have a mind palace or a mind shed, go there and focus on something in your life or career that‘s more positive and can distract you from the current annoyance.
Do: Consider the big picture.
Yes, it is really irritating right now, and it’s hard to see beyond that when you are biting your tongue to keep from letting what you want to say fly out of your mouth. But take a moment (and a deep breath) and consider the long term. Will this matter in a week? A month? A year?
Do: Breathe deeply.
It sounds simple, but there is actually science behind it. Bringing in oxygen is a good thing…and when air is coming in, there is nothing negative coming out.
Do: Take a hike.
Not a long one, just enough to step out of your environment and get some fresh air. A change in scenery can help you change your focus, even if your hike only takes you to the coffee machine.
Do: Sleep on it before acting on it.
Things that bug you today may not be such a big deal tomorrow.
Do: Make a plan to process your anger.
Are you ticked off by one thing or another on a daily basis? Devise a plan that works for you to deal with it. Identify what you are feeling (to yourself, of course), choose to reject it, and replace it with something positive. Use the strategies above to help you diffuse.
Do: Consider the risk.
What would the fallout be if you were to lash out? Loss of a client? Strained communication with others on your team? Loss of employees? Loss of YOUR position?
Don’t: Fire off angry emails—and especially don’t CC others when you are doing it.
If you have to confront a coworker, do it face-to-face and privately after you have calmed down. A conversation, unlike written communication, can’t be saved, revisited, or passed around to others.
Don’t: Dwell on the negative.
Not only will it impede your work, but it will also affect the decisions you make and your ability to see yourself, and the situations around you, clearly.
Don’t : Let yourself reach boiling point.
If you feel so angry that you might lose your temper in front of others, discreetly excuse yourself for a couple of minutes until you can process what you are feeling and expel some negativity.
Don’t: Take it personally.
As rude or annoying as others can come across, remember that their actions are likely a result of what they think is best for them, with little or no regard of how it negatively impacts those around them.
Need some guidance to help you handle chronically stressful people or situations? Consider talking with a business coach. Business coaching can provide a fresh pair of eyes, an objective perspective, and a wealth of experience to help you work through the challenges you are facing. Our business coach in Cleveland specializes in helping small- to medium- sized business owners and managers survive and thrive. You can meet with him in person or via web conference depending on your location and preference. Find out more about our business and management consulting services, or contact us today to get started!