Bad Day? 5 Good Ways to Deal With Frustration at Work

By Robert Half on October 10, 2014 at 7:00am

Your computer crashed — again. Your boss assigned you more work when you’re already swamped.

Your coworkers are being loud. It feels like an episode of your favorite sitcom — without the laugh track. Frustration at work can wreck your day. Don’t let it. Use these tips to improve your outlook. Serenity now!

1. Assess the situation

When you find yourself dealing with frustration, step back and determine what the specific problem is. Are you just tired? Did a coworker say something hurtful? Write it down. Simply knowing why you feel frustrated can help you overcome it.

2. Find the silver lining

Without being Pollyannaish, a little positivity might be enough to improve your outlook. For instance, if your boss is late to a meeting, relax and appreciate the extra time you have to gather your thoughts before the meeting begins.


3. Remember, it’s happened before

When you feel frustrated, think about the last time you felt that way at work. Things probably worked out then. Chances are, the same will be true this time. Realizing that your frustration doesn’t help matters may keep the negative feelings under control. Channel your inner Bob Marley and tell yourself that “every little thing is gonna be all right.”

4. Take a deep breath

In her book “Emotional Freedom,” Judith Orloff recommends first taking a breath when someone frustrates you. Then decide whether you want to talk to the person about the situation right away (if you’re relatively calm) or later (if you’re upset and need time to cool down).

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5. Talk it out

When you do talk to the person who’s caused your frustration, make sure to:

  • Stay focused. Don’t make it personal. Stick to the action that caused the problem.
  • Avoid accusing. There’s a good chance the person isn’t even aware of how you feel.
  • Really listen. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, listen to what the person says to you and consider his or her point of view.
  • Act out the Golden Rule. Treat that person the way you hope to be treated, and pay it forward when someone treats you well.

Learning to properly deal with work-related frustration may take time, but being able to handle conflict is necessary for your career to advance. As a bonus, it’s a soft skill that may set you apart for leadership down the road.

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