Keep office politics, annoying co-workers, and infuriating customers from fraying your last nerve.
Ever have a bad day at work where the biggest challenge is keeping your sanity? It might be a broken printer or a co-worker who stole your idea that pushes you to the edge, but it’s important to deal with the annoyances of a bad work environment in a professional way—even when you feel the steam billowing from your ears.
These seven tips will help you keep your cool when irritants start heating up.
Don’t Fly Off the Handle
Remember that you can’t control what other people do or say that annoys you, but you can control your reaction to those annoyances. And a large part of keeping calm involves maintaining perspective. In the heat of the moment, everything seems worse than it likely is.
To help reign in the frazzled feelings after a bad day at work, let logic lead the way. Ask yourself if you're responding with the appropriate level of rage. Chances are, you don't need to blow your gasket over a cell phone with a depleted battery or a misplaced shoe. Being aware of your emotions makes them easier to control
When another person, whether a co-worker or client, is frustrating you, take a minute to put yourself in their shoes. Remember you’re not the only one who could be having a bad day. Just as you wish you could be cut some slack every now and then, be the one to give someone else a break.
Everyone wants to feel heard, so hear them out fully before you offer a reply. Acknowledge that their frustrations are being taken seriously. You might be surprised at just how effective it is at diffusing the pressure.
Block Out Petty Irritations and Chatter
If environmental stressors are gnawing at your nerves, you’ve only got one option, and that’s to shut them out. Seek solace by closing your door if you have one, going outside for some fresh air, leaving your desk for a break, or plugging in your headphones.
Aside from physically blocking the irritations, practice tuning out. Think about the positives in your life, or give yourself a menial task to distract yourself. Something as simple as taking out the trash can offer a sense of accomplishment and give your brain a break.
Perfect the Art of the Blowoff
The blowoff technique is similar to what you would use to gracefully exit a conversation, except here, you engage as little as humanly possible. If your workplace feels dysfunctional, with co-workers or clients attempting to drag you into a gossip-fest, give them the slip. A simple, “Oh, you don’t say? Well, I’ve got to get back to my work,” can be plenty effective. This will help to position you as someone who doesn’t want to be bothered with certain discussions or office gossip.
Break the Bad-Mood Cycle
Moods are contagious, whether bad or good, so do your part to halt the spread of infectious negativity. If your co-worker or boss is having a bad day at work, you don't need to sympathize by echoing their bad mood. Do your best to lift their spirits. You never know how a couple of kind words can turn someone's bad day at work into a not-so-bad day.
Use Humor as a Tool
Never underestimate the power of goofy workplace humor. If there’s a chance to lighten the mood, even if it’s privately, grab the moment. Finding the funny in a bad situation can alleviate a lot of tension. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of your professionalism. If you need to follow up your humor with, “I was only kidding!”, your joke was probably not well received.
End the Day With a Clean Slate
Remember: You work to live, not live to work. Leave work at work and resolve outstanding conflicts before the day’s end whenever possible. This provides a better chance to mentally recharge overnight and start fresh the next day.
Make a list at the end of the day with all the tasks you want to accomplish tomorrow. That way, you don't have to bring your work-brain home with you.