When I’m frustrated at work, I’ve steps I can take to calm myself before it impacts others.
Kanesha left Steve’s office fuming! Imagine going in with the good intention to include him in the impromptu team lunch and being rudely told “Not today!”, like she was some sort of annoyance. When she re-joined the others outside to enjoy their lunch on a beautiful day Kanesha launched into how rude Steve was and what a jerk he’d been, leaving no room for her co-workers to interject. The mood at lunch was not cheerful despite the beautiful weather and Kanesha ducked out of a meeting with Steve that afternoon. Kanesha went home from work that night exhausted and at risk of unloading on her loved ones if their evening didn’t go well.
- Blind Spot: Not understanding that being frustrated (which happens to everyone from time to time) means you are at risk of being emotionally reactive (ideally you want to catch yourself BEFORE that happens).
- Hidden Habit: Pushing through your day without taking a moment to stop and check in with yourself so you can meet your own emotional needs (before they spill out onto others).
When it’s safe…
Kanesha left Steve’s office fuming! Imagine going in with the good intention to include him in the impromptu team lunch and being rudely told “Not today!”, like she was some sort of annoyance. When she re-joined the others outside to enjoy their lunch on a beautiful day Kanesha launched into how rude Steve was and what a jerk he’d been. Her friend held up her hand to stop Kanesha and said “Look, you’re understandably upset right now, maybe give yourself some time to cool off before you say anything more? I’ve worked with Steve awhile; he’s just really dedicated and focused”. Kanesha agreed and they changed the subject, but inside she was quietly seething. Kanesha ducked out of a meeting she was supposed to have with Steve that afternoon. She went home from work that night too exhausted to play with her toddler or enjoy time with her spouse.
- Blind Spot: Not seeing there is more than one perspective to an issue, and missing it because of the way the issue makes you feel.
- Hidden Habit: Assuming everyone around you thinks and feels like you do.
For some things...
Kanesha left Steve’s office fuming! Imagine going in with the good intention to include him in the impromptu team lunch and being rudely told “Not today!”, like she was some sort of annoyance. Realizing she was upset and not wanting to ruin the first nice day they had to eat outside, she took a moment to compose herself. When she re-joined the others to enjoy their lunch, she didn’t mention the way Steve had made her feel, but she wasn’t about to forget it either. Later when she and Steve were in a meeting together it took all she had to be civil to him. Kanesha went home that night exhausted, going to bed at the same time as her toddler.
- Blind Spot: Pushing off processing how you feel, without understanding how those unprocessed feelings will re-surface later in a disruptive way.
- Hidden Habit: Out of sight out of mind works for short periods, but it doesn’t solve anything and you are left with the “hang-over” of not having dealt with how you really felt, negatively impacting another part of your day/life.
Kanesha left Steve’s office frustrated and confused. She knew when she felt like this to take a deep breath. Then another …and one more. With the pause to breathe, her frustration turned to curiosity, wondering why Steve had reacted that way to being included in the impromptu team lunch? The way he responded was rude, but she also recognized she had done nothing to deserve it, so that was on him. She looked forward to the first nice day to eat outside and enjoyed lunch with her teammates. Later when she and Steve were in a meeting together, she held her ground when his words were once again thoughtless, asking him politely to explain why he was upset and getting an apology in return. Kanesha went home that night ready to spend some much-needed relaxation time with her family.
- Blind Spot: Strong beginning! Keep in mind that proactivity is always a good investment; see if you can start a crucial conversation to build understanding between yourself and someone who is difficult before you need it.
- Hidden Habit: Just because you may have processed how you feel about a person/circumstance doesn’t mean the other person(s) did; be mindful that real understanding takes conversation to ensure everyone is on the same emotional page – and the sooner you can have that conversation, the better.
Kanesha left Steve’s office mildly confused. She took a deep breath, wondering why Steve had reacted that way to being included in the impromptu team lunch? The way he responded was rude, but she also recognized she’d done nothing to deserve it. She was worried about him, but enjoyed the first nice day to eat outside with her teammates. Recognizing they had a meeting together late that afternoon she went to Steve’s office after lunch and asked how he was doing. “Why?” Steve asked, confused. Kanesha explained she wanted to check as he seemed to want to be alone and she was concerned. Steve then recognized he’d been less than gracious with his earlier response. He let Kanesha know he’d gotten drawn into his work and apologized for being short with her. Their afternoon meeting went well, with Steve being attentive and professional. Kanesha went home that night ready to go on the family bike ride they’d planned.
- Blind Spot: Fabulous approach! As you continue to have difficult conversations, remain open to the experience of others as a way to ensure a safe “psychological space” for everyone – a place where both parties can extend the benefit of the doubt to each other.
- Hidden Habit: Continuing to have these crucial conversations will build resilience, as not everyone may be as skilled as you at having them and some conversations will be far more challenging than others; practice builds resilience (and skill).