Work can be a frustrating place. Whether you work for someone or are self-employed, there will always be frustrations and largely they will revolve around the actions of someone else in your career. Whilst many offices and employers will encourage individual personality as part of your day-to-day work, both in a professional and social context (hey, they may have even hired you for it), what they actual mean is not quite the same.

Work Stress

I’m hot-headed and I have a temper. I lose patience easily and pick up things quickly. I’d be a rubbish poker player because I find it hard to keep what I’m thinking a secret – my distaste and anger is usually displayed right over my face for all to see.

None of these things are particularly helpful in life, and certainly not in a work environment. When the stakes are high, the pressure is on and the stress is beating down on you, you can often feel close to losing it. But instead you’ve got to learn to keep a lid on it.

I’m passionate about what I do – I’m incredibly lucky to work in a career and environment where I believe so strongly in what I am doing. It makes getting out of bed super easy. I work hard and want to get the best results for the organisation I work for. But often my passion and desire to do well can lead to the kind of frustration I’m talking about. The sort of bubble-over-stamp-feet-scream-shout frustration that lets itself loose before you’ve had a chance to calm down and grab a cup of tea.

This has happened to me. In public. Several times. And I’m not proud of it.

In fact, I’m pretty gutted about it.

I’ve never had a total meltdown at an inopportune and unprofessional moment, but I’ve been close enough to know that I had to start thinking of ways I could keep a lid on my passion at work. Whether I am totally in the right or not, it isn’t a way to win friends or influence people and it is definitely the way to get a bad rep for the one who is a bit crazy amongst colleagues and clients alike.

After working through a couple of really difficult projects at work, and testing a few ways of keeping my temper at a simmer not a boil, I’ve found a few things are starting to work.

  1. If it is a project meeting or group brainstorm which isn’t going how you expect it to, post it note that crap out. Sometimes, I find it much easier to express my thoughts when I can see them mapped out in front of me. I’ve started to notice an improvement on how I express myself just by drawing on bits of paper. Magical.
  2. Understand your trigger points – I know that I can’t stand being interrupted, talked down to and patronised. And you know – sadly sometimes it happens. When it does, I can sense it is happening and take my anger (and my voice) down a notch. Waiting patiently and calmly for your comeback as opposed to pouting like a stroppy teen will have far more impact.
  3. Have colleagues you can vent to. Finding friendly faces when you need to pop out for a coffee and get it off your chest is an absolutely key strategy. If you are like me, you are going to want to let off steam somehow, so trusted colleagues who are away from the situation will help. Just don’t take it home. Or to the boss. In the pub. After a few gins.
  4. Just bloody chill out. As Fran’s recent post on pressure showed, it really is only work and we can only do our best. Work is a really important part of who I am, but it is only one part and it doesn’t totally define me. Learning a sense of perspective will help you keep a lid on your frustrations, and keep you sane.

Are you chilled out in the office, or a work hot-head? How do you cope?

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