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Your Office Coach

What to do when the real problem is you

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Q: "I feel that I am living a solitary nightmare at work. My job is stressful and unrewarding, with little chance of advancement. Raises and promotions are given only to the chosen few. Management favors people who are outgoing, and I am an introvert. I am also twenty years older than most of my co-workers, so I don’t fit in well.

"I find myself complaining constantly, because I can’t seem to control my anger and unhappiness. I have blown up at my supervisor more than once. I’m embarrassed about this childish behavior, which has cost me the respect of my colleagues.

"I don’t like the person I have become, but I don’t know how to change. Starting over somewhere else would be difficult because of my age and poor reputation. What can I do?" Miserable

A: I am truly sorry that you are so desperately unhappy, but I’m glad you realize that you are largely the source of your own misery. Many discontented people remain stubbornly blind to their own shortcomings.

Because anger is at the root of your problem, the first step towards change is dealing with your hostile feelings. Otherwise, negative emotions will continue to seep into all your interactions at work. And if you change jobs, odds are that you will simply transfer your resentment to your new surroundings.  

Since anger management is tough to tackle as a self-help project, consider seeking help from a wise and trusted friend or a professional counselor. Make an effort to control your negative “self-talk”—that is, the pessimistic messages that continually run through your mind. Instead, try to see the positive aspects of your work and your life.

You must also begin mending fences with your boss and co-workers. Let them know that you want to become a more pleasant and helpful colleague, then ask what you could do to make their work easier. Finally, stop viewing your age and temperament as insurmountable barriers. If you are able to transform your negative outlook, those factors should quickly become irrelevant.

Do you have some unfortunate tendencies that create problems at work? Here are five steps that can help: How to Change Your Behavior.

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