On one glorious sunny morning you started with your job. Fresh out of college, you loved the new atmosphere, you loved the coffee-making machine, loved your cubicle and even your new boss. Years passed by, you changed jobs, but have never felt like that first day. Simple reason, today your plate is full with a difficult boss, excess workload, un-cooperative colleagues, aches, pains, health issues and small irritants that even your favourite shower gel is unable to wash off. Stress could be physical as well mental, but it is the latter that plays a foul role. Mind makes stumbling blocks with irks, big or small, and the faster you identify them and reach a solution, the better it is for you in the long run.
Tackling major irks
You go through the day trying to reach deadlines not because you are unable to cope, but because there’s so much to do. Probably it is because you have a boss with poor management skills or colleagues who push work your way. Or, you might be dealing with too many facets of the company because you are the most trusted.
To clear the deck, get realistic. “When someone pushes more work your way today, sit back and think about what is important to you for that day. Forget the rest,” suggests Rajesh Sharma [name changed on request], director in a multinational marketing company. “Learn to say ‘NO’ to colleagues…you need not be rude, just explain that you have your own work to do,” adds Rajesh. Perhaps you can politely suggest to your boss to divide responsibilities and help you prioritise tasks, but make sure you understand the impact before shifting responsibilities. “I often advise this to my colleagues. Your ‘yes’ has no meaning unless you learn to say ‘no’,” says Haresh Desai, a chartered accountant.
At times, work plateaus. It happens to all at some point in their career. Reasons could be unclear policies at work, no sense of direction, career ambiguity, new mergers, restructuring or lack of communication, leaving you with that ‘burnt out’ feeling.
It’s time to bring that golden word ‘optimism’ from the back of beyond where you’ve pushed it. You know you have given your job your best and you will continue to do so in the coming years. Keep reminding yourself that it’s just a phase; do some social networking, so you feel more aware. “We’ve all been there. And I’ve found that diverting your mind away from work for a while by taking a hobby, joining an exercise class, spending more leisure hours or a vacation with family are refreshing. The break helps you find direction,” says Sharma.
You work like a mule. You face your boss’s mood swings thinking it’s just one of those days. But you have to still hear those words of appreciation. Your yearly appraisals are moderate and the well-deserved promotion is still pending. It makes you feel unappreciated.
There’s nothing wrong if you expect verbal and written acknowledgement—these are small tokens that boost morale. However, learn to appreciate your self. “It is most important to not seek appreciation from others. In case you do seek it elsewhere, there will always be a gap between what you get and what you deserve. Personal happiness and satisfaction with the job is the biggest appreciation you will ever have,” says Nitin Adarkar, who works at a senior management level in a private company.
If you still want appreciation, learn to ask for it. “In subtle, but polite ways, prod the boss about what you deserve,” suggests Sharma. Or else, stop being the sacrificial lamb. Most importantly, connect and share; you will realise you are not alone in the boat—most others feel the same [be careful not to make it a back-biting session though].
At any workplace, you will find a mixed bunch. There are those that are kind and helpful, others that keep to themselves, while the rest come in variety of forms—crooks, bullies, frigid, interfering, un-cooperative, stress-carriers and hurtful.
You found them in school too, so why should workplace be any different? The only change is the way you deal with them. In school, you had your mommy or teacher to complain to, at work you don’t. “Form a strategy. Don’t break ice with the cold ones—at times it might rebound, don’t discuss too much with the interfering ones, keep away from the hurtful ones and for others, let it be tit for tat,” suggests Sharma.
The blame game
One year, the company does not do well, one month the sales go down, one week you don’t get clients or your team fails to meet the standards at work. That’s when the blame game begins. It happens everywhere because no one wants to take responsibility to what has happened or are scared to come in the line of fire with the seniors.
Stand firm! Experts are unanimous about what to do in such a case. If you are responsible, have courage to accept your fault and suggest a solution. If you are not at fault, let the seniors know in a firm but well-mannered way. However, resist the urge to point fingers at anyone; it might appear that you are shifting the blame.
Tackling minor irritants…
Late to work
You get out of the house twirling the car key and humming a song. You feel as bright as a new penny. You move on with your favourite music playing. And that’s when it all begins—traffic lights decide to turn red the moment they see you; just take the next turn, there’s a big jam as some truck has broken down in the middle of the road. Result, you are late to work by 20 minutes. A small margin, but often with water-tight schedules packed with teleconferences, meetings and deadlines, it does matter, especially if you are the type who needs to gather before the day starts. The day goes into a slide; indeed, you are bound to feel frustrated, but in most places this scenario’s a daily affair.
Best way out is to always keep a margin of at least 15 minutes [half hour if you live farther from work] to reach your destination. And if you’re late, simply start from whatever time it is without fretting over the delay.
Why could it not be you?
You have a co-worker who has become the focus of attention; he’s achieved his targets; he’s got a promotion. Result: you are turning green with envy. And all this happens when you are feeling the lowest.
Gather yourself…the world’s not ending! That person has worked hard to look the way s/he does. So, if you feel you want to get into competition, stop brooding and find time to work on yourself.
Blame the physical environment
It’s either too hot or cold, there’s insufficient light, seats are bad, there’s too much noise or that the washrooms are far away from where you sit, or too close for comfort.
Firstly, realise that the workplace is not your home. So everything’s not going to be perfect. Work around the issue: Carry a shawl or jacket if you feel cold, dress light if it’s too hot, wear ear plugs if it’s too noisy. “Most problems will get sorted with a little initiative from your side. For those that don’t, find out if others have similar grievances and talk to the management,” suggests Sharma.
Carrying home issues to work
You may have fought with your parents, best pal, spouse, sibling, or in-laws the night before. You come to work in a bad mood and snap at others for no reason. Is it fair?
Ask yourself if you are magnifying the issue, leaping to conclusions and attaching too much emotional reasoning? The answer, most often will be yes. Remember, that at work you are expected to give your best. And don’t let anything come in the way. You could talk it with your friends in office—it helps. But don’t let personal issues affect work.
This was first published in the March 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.