August 23, 2012

Having a Bad Day at Work? Try This.

I’m about to have visitors at work: about 135 of them for 55 minutes each – daily. Being a teacher is so incredibly taxing because I’m not just a teacher. In many ways, my job description includes being, doing, or providing just about everything a child needs. It’s exhausting. Most days I feel like I can hardly take care of myself, much less someone else.

I am easily stressed and most of the time I feel as if I can’t take another day. Often it’s my adult co-workers that are pushing me over that edge! That’s why I think these next few strategies will work for you in times of conflict, regardless of your industry.

Try On Their Shoes. I Bet They Pinch.

I imagine this might be hard for many, but if your co-worker is approachable on good days, ask them for a quick run-down of what their day is like. We focus on our roles but rarely hear how we factor in to the whole picture. I’d also guess they throw in some personal stuff without realizing it, which shows you that their personal life is affecting their mindset a little. It’s normal, it’s human. Sometimes, though, just being honest and saying, “Hey…I’d like to know what your day is like. I want to know how my job supports what you do,” because we all know the group meetings aren’t accurate.

You Cannot Unsee Things

This is a gimme, and it’s been mentioned a million times in other places but…before you hit ‘send,’ go take a bathroom break or set a timer. You may still feel the same way but giving it even a few minutes can keep you from making a quick decision you’ll regret. Just quickly scan for tone and, no, this doesn’t only apply to situations where you may be angry. Even the most innocent of emails can be interpreted wrong, depending on how things are worded.

Glance Behind You

Think about when your work situation was considerably worse. Perhaps you went home smelling like fried chicken every night. Maybe you worked a customer service booth at a retailer with poor management. How did you get where you are today? Is it an improvement? Wasn’t there excitement and novelty at first? Channel it again. While the answer might be no, realize that you always have choice on how to change things around, even if it’s not today.

Lend a Helping Hand

On some downtime, a break, or whenever you feel comfortable, find someone at your workplace that you actually like and ask them if they’d like some help with a quick task. Using that verbiage shows that you’re not willing to toil at their job but you’d like to give a bit of short, friendly assistance.

Keep Your Comments To Yourself

Seriously. The workplace – regardless of what you do – is already a rumor mill. Through my experience in all types of jobs, I’ve learned one important thing: work friends aren’t really “friends.” Trust no one. The more you talk (or, vent, as so many people like to say) to your co-workers, the more trouble you’re causing for yourself. Go ahead and try it if you don’t believe me.


It’s okay to wander off in your thoughts and daydream but actually HEAR what I am saying: don’t spend much time on it. The last thing you need is another problem. Think about something that makes you smile. If you’re thinking that anywhere else in the world would be better than being at work right now, then think about it. Find a quick piece of inner peace and get back to work, man!

Who Can You Control?

If you answer anything but “myself” to that question, you’re flat-out wrong. Regardless of our roles at work, regardless of our intimidation factors, we really only have control over ourselves. Once you accept that, you can relax a bit. Do what you do. Try to do your best as often as possible because, ultimately, that’s all you CAN do. There may be a difference in opinion between you and your co-workers on that but, I’ll be honest…I can’t give advice on that one.

A Glass of Vino a Day…

Many sites have quoted a study (or studies) showing that people who work with children rank in the bottom 5% of alcoholic professionals. I don’t know where the hell they got that from because I don’t know a single teacher who doesn’t drink and, out of those, fewer who admit to overdoing it quite often. Many teachers exhibit the signs of functioning alcoholics, from what I can see. Just to confuse my readers about what type of person I really am, I’m going to throw in a little Alcoholics Anonymous stuff at you. Sometimes, the only thing that can make you see a brighter side is a drink on the porch, with your feet up, and appreciating whatever climate you’re in. At the same time, the AA approach is fantastic as well: Just take it one day at a time.

Image Credit: grafvision / Shutterstock

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