You know how everyone says you should never take your work problems home with you? It just doesn’t go over well with your significant other and it often just makes us miserable human beings to be around. We often don’t even realize it when we take out those frustrations on our friends and family when we go home – to the point they don’t really want to be around us and they stop looking forward to us even coming home if it happens often enough.
My wife would always say something like, “Do you talk to your co-workers like this?” That’s always a humbling thing to hear because, no, I didn’t and I would never.
Now what if the tables are turned. What if things are going poorly on our jobs and we have a tendency to take it out on our unsuspecting staff at work? Or our project team? I realize that if a situation like that went on long enough and someone had the guts and the wherewithal to speak up then eventually we would be terminated. But making life miserable for people at work that you work with on a daily basis – is that a good idea? I’ve seen it happen all to often – I’m hoping I’ve not been too guilty of it. At least, thankfully, I’ve never received any complaints about it.
If you find this happening to you – if you find that work issues are changing your attitude toward those around you and how you behave and manage them – then it’s time to change your behavior before someone higher up in the organizational hierarchy changes it for you. And I believe some of the same things that we can use to avoid ‘taking the bad stuff home with us’ can apply here as well. Trying these three principles can help us to bring a more positive attitude to our projects and departments, improve morale on our team, and regain the confidence and respect of the important individuals that we work with on a daily basis….
Regroup before meeting with your team/co-workers
Just as the drive home is a good time to think through the day’s events and convince yourself not to walk through the door to your wife and kids with your work issues, a ‘regrouping’ in your office is in order before entering your next project or staff team meeting. If the issues aren’t with the project or team you’re addressing, then those individuals should not have to take the brunt of your frustrations. Some focused thought on what you’re going to present and how you’re going to manager your speech and behavior will help you to stay on track during that next meeting and avoid ‘venting’ on an unsuspecting team member who doesn’t deserve it.
Talk in the positive sense
When working with your project team, always try to be upbeat – speak in the positive sense. I don’t mean you have to address everything and everyone as if you’re wearing rose-colored glasses. You still need to be real and even pessimistic if the situation calls for it. But the more positive behavior you bring to your interpersonal interactions with team members and co-workers the better, as they will take that same positive attitude away with them and on to the tasks you likely just assigned to them.
Explain frustrations in confidence
Finally, if you have a close relationship with your team or particular members of your team and some work areas are troubling you, it doesn’t hurt to share it with them. Always keeping all frustrations inside will likely just cause pre-mature death…and no one wants that. But keep the discussion separate from the work at hand and make sure they understand this is just a venting of your frustrations, not a criticism of them or that it is somehow related to the work that they are performing for your project.
We all get frustrated with our work from time to time. And, justly or unjustly, we’ve all had problematic relationships with those in authority over us. We must deal with those situations in whatever way possible and appropriate. However, if it has nothing to do with our co-workers or project team members, then we need to make sure that we don’t take it out on them…and that we don’t damage our relationship with them as a result.
When you’ve had frustrations at work, what measures or actions have you found helpful in avoiding taking it out on your team members and co-workers? How do you deal with and deflect the frustrations when they come up?