Stewing resentments often emerge as the No. 1 impediment to resolving conflict. The urge to keep anger alive—and let it fester inside you—can overpower your better judgment.
It’s natural to feel resentment toward people from time to time. But the test is how you respond. If you allow your fury to coalesce and settle into your system, it becomes a kind of plaque that eats away at your emotional control.
Lingering resentments interfere with more positive coping mechanisms such as overcoming biases or grievances to find common ground. Because it’s so easy to succumb to ill feelings toward others, you may withdraw from negotiations and harden your position.
It’s better to take responsibility for choosing a different perspective. Rather than resent what you perceive as a personal affront, shift your outlook. Say to yourself, “I’m going to learn more about how this person thinks and sees the situation.”
Some experts refer to resentment as frozen anger. Because it serves no constructive purpose and contributes to work-related stress, the best strategy is to acknowledge it as soon as possible and mentally sweep it aside.
The true damage of festering resentment is that it fuels a self-righteous need to humiliate or denigrate others. The more you vent about a “rude” customer or “mean” consultant, the more your bored co-workers mutter under their breath, “Jeez, get over it.”
Furthermore, expressing your resentment places you in the weak role of self-defined victim. You are implicitly admitting that you cannot look past petty conflicts.
Worst of all, resentments rarely dissipate on their own. Time does not necessarily heal the wound. Indeed, you may view the next conflict through the eyes of someone who’s already angry, bitter and closed-minded. That’s hardly a recipe for restoring peace.