There's going to come a time or two in your career where you're going to need to exercise large amounts of restraint to find ways to keep your cool when annoyed at work. It can be from something minor, like someone eating your potato salad that was left in the fridge or giving you a task 15 minutes before you leave for the day. And other times it'll be from something major, like being embarrassed in front of the boss during a meeting, or a co-worker unfairly throwing you the blame for a botched project. And at that moment you might want to react in the most unprofessional of ways (throw your phone against the wall, scream, etc.) But while that might feel really satisfying, it definitely won't help the situation... or your career.
While it can be tough to keep your feelings in check during stressful times (whether that means biting back your tongue or biting back tears) it's necessary to do. To help you out during those tough, tough times, here are seven ways to keep your cool when you're annoyed at work. Just sit back, count to ten, and try and struggle to fight back the red haze from your eyes.
1. Keep The Screaming On The Inside
Maybe someone just pulled a real shady, passive-aggressive move on you during the team meeting. While instinct might be to take a swipe back at her and cause tension in the room, that won't look favorably on you. Instead, take a minute to swallow you words and count to ten. While it's not as satisfying as putting her back in her place, biting your tongue for the next five minutes gives you the time to put things into perspective, try to figure out why what was said was said (maybe you did sort of drop the ball that week?), and give you time to figure out how to appropriately respond that won't leave you sitting in the bathroom an hour later, full of regret.
According to at Lauren Cochrane at AllWomensTalk, "Your first instinct might be to open your mouth and say (or shout) something that you may regret later. Instead, close it and breathe! Taking a breath buys you time to step back, put things in perspective, and bite your tongue before you say something." It's better to give yourself five minutes to think it through then spend the next month and a half regretting the scene.
2. Ask Yourself How Important Is It
Realistically, how important is this small slight that went down in the meeting room? Uncalled for? Yes. Completely annoying? Absolutely. But important? Maybe not.
We usually forget the majority of our work tiffs within the week, and if we don't we at least acknowledge it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. According to Michele Hoos, a writer at job hunting site The Muse, "When I find my blood pressure rising and I start to lose my perspective, I ask myself this simple question: Will I care about this in five years? As I stare at whatever email I’ve just received or whatever presentation I’m working on, the answer is almost always a definitive no. Usually, I will have moved on from it in a month." Keeping that in mind, it's not worth causing a huge scene over. Or feeding your sulk.
3. Write It All Down, Then Delete It
If you can't shake off the annoyed mood from the meeting, find your emotional release not in a nose to nose showdown in the lunchroom, but on your Word document. Go to your computer and write it all out. Write down what the person said to you, how it made you feel, how they were completely, one hundred percent wrong, and what you would like to tell them. Then, delete it.
Now remember, the "deleting" part is the key here. The whole point of not ranting was to make sure you didn't walk away regretting your actions, therefore you don't want the same thing to happen if someone finds your doc. According to Elizabeth Lowman at Forbes, "Your best bet: Once you’ve exorcised your demons, shred (or permanently delete) the evidence." Repeat after me: Ctrl + A delete.
4. Rant It Out With Your Best Work Friend
Everyone has their buddy on the inside. When you're feeling spent or wounded up from an encounter, grab your work friend and head out to a quick lunch so you can vent. Sometimes all you need is a sympathetic ear to feel ready to let go of a sticky confrontation.
According another article on The Muse, "Whether you’re dealing with a difficult boss or a looming reorganization, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone and that there’s support around you. Opening up to others can help you learn who shares your feelings or concerns, and may even give you insight into a new way of dealing with a problem you’re facing." Your work comrade likely knows you and the person in question well, and might offer insights as to why they took a swipe at you in the first place. And if not, the very least you'll get out of it is a vent sesh that will leave you ready to move on with the afternoon.
5. Realize It's Not Up To You To Teach Them A Lesson
Some people are abrasive, inconsiderate, or just don't know how to use tact. While those type of people have a habit of getting under your skin, keep in mind that it's not your job to teach them how to behave. Don't put your reputation at work on the line to put them into their place, because so many things can go wrong in an altercation like that. Most of the times, it's not worth it.
According to Sibyl Chavis, Harvard Law School graduate, business woman, and writer for from Possibility of Today, a site that aims to improve people's quality of life at work and home, "Realize that whoever upset you is not your issue and you don’t have to bother yourself with teaching them anything. No revenge or teaching them a lesson is necessary." Just file away that they're a bit of a jerk, then shrug your shoulders and move on. You're too busy to teach them the proper way to behave,
6. Talk To Someone Who Loves You
Sometimes what you really need is the equivalent of a bear hug. No amount of ranting or furious water-cooler whispering will help wipe away the feels from that afternoon. For times like those, call up your mom or someone you love for that emotional support and cuff on the chin.
According to Elizabeth Lowman at Forbes, "Good friends or significant others can be the perfect source for support in difficult situations. If you can sneak in a quick text or call and hear a familiar, friendly voice for a few minutes, it may be just enough to talk you off the ledge." You know that you do a great job and that you're competent; sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else that knows it just as well.
7. Go Get Yourself A Treat
Biting your tongue is hard work, and sometimes you need a little reward for your efforts to keep yourself from storming into Janet's office and flipping her pen cup over her head. For moments like those, take yourself out for a little treat. Buy yourself coffee, cheer yourself up with a red velvet cupcake, or let yourself take a moment to browse through the sales section at Zara. Whatever it is, distract yourself with a little bit of happiness to diffuse the time bomb that's happening inside your head.
According to Meredith Melnick at Huffington Post, "Eating or drinking something sweet is soothing because it stems the production of the stress hormone, glucocorticoid (which helps explain why we find ourselves staring down the barrel of an empty cookie package when things go haywire). While not an excuse to unleash your emotional eating on the office vending machine, a Hershey’s Kiss, peppermint candy or other reasonably-sized treat, can help."
So there you go, scientific proof as to why you need cream cheese frosting, and why you need it now. You've got this.