From investment banking to waiting tables to installing drywall, all jobs share one thing in common: stress. There are always things going on at work that make us want to lose our cool and scream at the top of our lungs, but according to licensed therapist and behavior-change coach Melody Wilding, venting isn’t the best solution to our problems.
In a great Daily Muse post titled “3 Alternatives to Venting at Work That Have Better Results for Everyone,” Wilding offers tips on how to avoid complaining. As she says, flipping your lid doesn’t really solve anything, and when your griping has to do with the specific behavior of colleagues, it might make you seen non-trustworthy. You’ll also risk hurting office morale. Next time something has you ready to punch a wall or scream at the top of your lungs, try one of the following strategies.
1. Get Some Perspective — As Wilding says, “timing is everything,” and she’s not just talking about venting. When it comes to actually solving those problems that have you so vexed, it’s all about tackling them when you’re most likely to see results. Don’t snap at a colleague just before a bit meeting, even though he or she has once again made copies of key documents at the last minute. When you feel the anger boiling over, take a few minutes, cool out, make a list of the issues you’d like to address, and plot time on your calendar to chat with coworkers.
2. Focus On Specific Problems — The alternative here is making your gripes about people, and that will only make you seem like you’re making accusations.Wilding gives a good example: If your coworker Bob has been mean to junior staff, don’t just say, “You’re being super rude to junior staff.” Cite an example and say something like, “Bob, I felt disappointed that you didn’t greet junior staff at the company dinner.” You’ll be less likely to put the other person on the defensive.
3. Accentuate the Positive — Wilding is a firm believer in giving people the benefit of the doubt. If the guy or gal in the cubicle next to you is typing super loud, it’s probably not for the purpose of annoying you. When you approach them to solve the problem, begin with, “I know you probably don’t realize you’re doing it, but…” You might also start with a disclaimer about how much you like sitting next to the person, because it’s helped you accomplish XYZ. Finally, it helps to offer solutions to problems. If Bob’s keyboard tapping distracts you on phone calls, suggest letting him know before you hop on the horn for important conversations. He’ll appreciate your tact and be more likely to change his infuriating behavior.