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Wash away resentment

Discipline yourself to transform ill will into positive energy

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in Workplace Communication

Still angry over that flippant remark a colleague made last week? Jealous over Mr. Perfect’s rapid rise? Bitter about having to do your boss’s dirty work?

With all that negativity building up, don’t expect your job to get any easier. Carrying anger around can prove immobilizing and pose health risks.

Take steps now to cleanse yourself of bad feelings:

Confront and explain. If a coworker’s behavior ticks you off—and your anger doesn’t subside in a day or two—then let him know. Calmly describe the incident and your reaction.

It helps to characterize how your feelings have evolved. Start by saying, “When that happened, I felt...” Then add, “Now, I feel...” This puts your emotions in context and conveys the repercussions of the person’s actions.

Prepare to listen. Many people will rush to defend themselves or downplay the incident. Let them talk without interrupting. Just getting the matter off your chest can raise your spirits.

Delay your reaction. Rather than frequently reminding yourself that you’re resentful, limit the number of times you ponder the issue. Treat it like a ration.

Just as you’re about to wallow in an upsetting incident or bore friends or family with the “injustice” you face, stop and replace your thoughts with positive ones. Say to yourself, “I’m only going to think about that once a week for five minutes”—and stick to it.

Vent in private. Never lose control at work. If you’re stung by someone’s remarks and you’re tempted to explode, excuse yourself. Leave the building and take a walk if possible.

Warning: Don’t assume that just because you’ve been hurt you should return the jibe. Ratcheting up a conflict will only make matters worse. Instead, convert it into a problem to be solved and tackle it constructively.

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