It’s common for everyone to experience workplace stress at one point or another in their careers. Unfortunately, none of us work in a perfect office. Most companies don’t have an entire website and multi-million-dollar side projects dedicated to perfecting people and workplace culture like Google does. And since neither of those two things are available for the run-of-the-mill business, your professional habitat can be a difficult place to exist in.
Tempers. Egos. Frustrations. Uncontrollable emotions. Poor judgement. All of these are types of things you’ll encounter in the workplace, just as much as you will outside the workplace. And sometimes, every awful, horrible human trait that you can possibly imagine will exist within the same coworker, and there’s nothing you can do about it—that is, except go into the office every day and work side-by-side with that awful, horrible human being.
We’ve all been there. Trying to relax after a hard day, only to find ourselves re-living that argument with Susan over and over and over again. So how do you handle difficult workplace interactions and coworkers without bringing your pent-up frustrations home with you?
Here’s what we suggest.
First of all, it’s very important to remember that not everything is worth the effort, the battle, or the emotional turmoil. If it’s an issue or dispute that is relatively small in the grand scheme of things, then just drop it. Save your fight for another battle. Make this a re-occurring habit of yours, and when an issue is larger than normal, no one will be prepared for the fight you’ll bring to the table.
You have to recall that there’s a reason people differentiate your professional life from your personal life. Not just because they’re lived in two separate realms, but because one is legitimately personal and the other is not. Do your best to keep personal emotions out of the workplace, and you’ll find that it’ll be much easier to handle difficult people and interactions.
However, this does not mean to be completely emotion-free at work. Emotion is a great thing to utilize in a business setting in the right amount, because it can lead to new ideas and a bigger vision.
Secondly, just like avoiding your negative emotions, it’s best to avoid other’s emotions as well. Now, don’t completely write off the stress or anger that a coworker is feeling in a situation—this can be seen as inadequate interpersonal communication skills. But, you should try really hard to set these emotions aside while you attempt to rectify the actual issue. Try saying, “I understand that this situation is really affecting you at the moment. Let’s take a few minutes to catch our breath and then we’ll come back to the table to address what the real problem is here.” The sooner you can get this out, the sooner you can get to work.
If someone is angry and you choose to get angry back at that person, odds are things will only get worse from there. At this point, you should take note of the previous suggestions. Not every issue is worth the hassle. Most work issues should not be taken personally. And it’s important to address the issue, not the person. If you can remember these tips, then it shouldn’t be all that difficult to maintain your calm.
And if you can manage to stay calm, others will usually follow suit. Emotions tend to mimic other emotions—mostly because it looks rather ridiculous when someone is acting rude or out of control and you’re just sitting there with a smile on your face. So, try to stay calm and realize that yelling back at Susan won’t get either of you anywhere.