We all suffer disappointment at work, but it’s how you cope that really matters.
Didn’t get the promotion you wanted? Received an unfavorable performance review? These are examples of situations that would cause the ‘emotional Molotov cocktail’ to start brewing. You are filled with anger, resentment and disappointment, and that’s just to name a few. When we experience these feelings, ‘the wick has been lit’. This deadly mixture could result in misdirected anger and/or inability to focus, all of which will damage your reputation and make matters worse – hence, the blow-up.
When the ‘wick is lit’, don’t:
• Vent to co-workers or colleagues.
• React without thinking first.
• Let your emotions speak for you.
• Don’t do anything until you read the rest of this article.
Instead, try these tips to diffuse this volatile concoction:
1. Take a break. Temporarily remove yourself from the environment.
Give yourself time to clear your thoughts and absorb what has happened. Take a short walk to another department or outside to get some air. If it’s cold outside, take this opportunity to literally ‘cool off.’
2. See the other perspective. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
If you received a bad performance review, look at the reasons. Are you often late? Have you missed deadlines, submitted poor quality work, or been less than cordial to customers? Critically evaluate yourself and your behavior; there may some credence to the allegations. If so, admit it and move on to take steps to rectify the issues. After admitting that there may be just cause, come up with solutions that prevent it from happening again. This is a good time to conduct a self-evaluation, so try to ask yourself the following questions:
• Why did this happen?
• Was I negligent?
• How can I keep this from happening again?
Think of a self-evaluation as a performance review of ‘yourself.’ A self-evaluation is going to help determine the next course of action; in some cases you may be enlightened. Perhaps you don’t like your job and it is beginning to show, maybe it’s time to make a career change, or stop allowing your personal life to flow into the work environment. Decisions can then be made based on an evaluation of yourself.
3. Take your mind off of the situation. Perform a task that doesn’t require a lot of effort or thought. This will put the stress to work and work it off. Remarkably, you will get a lot done and you will accomplish a task that has been on the to-do list. I recommend filing or organizing your workspace. This is the perfect time to let go of some steam by conducting a task that requires minimal thought processes. Not only will you get to the task that has been sitting around for a while, but you will put a lot of effort into the task to release some tension.
4. Don’t take it personally. Easier said than done, right? We feel like the world is against us and everyone wants to see us fail. What’s most important is how do you see yourself? If you feel incompetent or insecure, others will see this too, and treat you as such. Build your confidence and don’t take things personally, look at it as ‘instructive criticism ’- criticism that instructs you on what not to do or how to do better. Examples of confidence builders are: a portfolio of your accomplishments, letters of thanks, and a display of accolades within your workspace (i.e. framed certificates and plaques).
5. After you have completed the first four steps, come up with a plan of action. If the promotion was desired because you really need to supplement your income, make a decision about how you will add to your income, whether it’s finding a new job that pays more money or look for a second source of revenue. You may have already identified a plan, so put it in motion. To combat tardiness, set your alarm clock 15-20 minutes fast, so that you wake up earlier. If you’re like me and hit the snooze button three times or more, set your alarm for 45 minutes earlier.
Disappointment is a part of life, it’s what makes us stronger and builds character, but being able to effectively deal with disappointment is the most difficult part of the growth process. Feelings of defeat and frustration cause the ‘emotional Molotov’ to start brewing, and once you drink it, the outcomes could be detrimental to your reputation and career – so drink responsibly.