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Three Easy Ways to Get Over It

Here is an actual email sent by a manager to a partner, and cc’d to a second partner, of a multi-million dollar professional services firm:

When I went down to tell Margaret that we were going to order Macaroni Grill, she practically screamed at me that “no one likes Macaroni Grill.” She said she told Harriet to order Jimmy John’s, but then people had preferences with Mayo, no tomato, etc. I told her that we would just order an assortment of sandwiches, some with, some without, but we didn’t “take” orders. She again screamed at me that why would we order food that no one would eat ….I told her that during our last staff meeting, there wasn’t a crumb left. So, I didn’t understand the problem. I don’t know what her problem is, but it is pretty ridiculous to have to defend “food.” She said she would talk to you about it. She wasn’t being reasonable so I left it alone.

Apparently … you are not leaving it alone by bothering the partners (your bosses) with this nonsense. Arghhhhhhh!!!

At what point do our personal complaints and frustrations about coworkers become too much? I’ve been guilty of overbitching. My BFF has put up with quite a lot over the years. She’s a loyal listener. I’ve spent too much energy in the past ranting and raving about the idiots and jerks at work. It’s not easy to find the right balance between telling an interesting anecdote and driving your confidant crazy. Rage is a slippery slope. We get all worked up when we feel we’ve been unjustly accused, saddled with an unfair workload, or have to pick up somebody else’s slack. It starts out small—you’re just a little ticked off, and it builds. Before you know it, you’re dashing off an email you wish you could retract.

How can we put an irritating incident in perspective? What if you really want to move on, but you can’t? Here are three suggestions to help you get past your anger:

1. Consider the source.
Is this a person you admire and respect? If there’s a possibility that they have something to teach you, that you hadn’t considered before— be open to their point of view.

2. Control yourself.
Remember you can’t control another person’s actions, but you can control your reaction. Give yourself a set time period to cool off before responding: sleep on it. Situations look different in the light of a new day.

3. Shut up and turn it off.
Take time for silent reflection. Steer thoughts away from the deed, or the wrong-doer. Will yourself to bring up happy, peaceful thoughts. Thank God for all the goodness in life.

Workplace Hazard”

I dread the workday.
Every day I struggle to keep peace
with a difficult coworker.
When I work with this person
I feel my sense of self-worth diminish.
I feel disrespected and unheard.
As I go in to work,
I feel myself bracing for a blow.

Please surround me today
with Your perfect peace.
Help me react to the blows as they come
rather than agonizing in anticipation of them.
Give me the strength to stand up
for myself when it is called for,
the patience to work peacefully
with someone I do not agree with,
and the joy to be a positive presence,
regardless of the challenges I confront.

—Abigail Wurdeman,