Your Guide to Productive Venting at Work Resources

No matter where you work, your job likely requires you to interact with various people with different personality types and ways of doing things. Supposedly, you’re all on the same team, but it doesn’t always seem like it, and it’s easy — if not inevitable — to get frustrated with colleagues at one point or another.

Before you have your next really bad day and threaten to throw your computer out the window in a fit of rage, be sure to read “4 Ways To Make Venting At Work Actually Productive,” a helpful piece Katie Douthwaite wrote for the Muse (and had reposted on Forbes). It’s filled with excellent advice for effective fuming — raging with a purpose!

First up, Douthwaite suggests you “minimize your impact.” No one wants to be seen as the office complainer, so you shouldn’t rant and rave out in the open, or to the same person every time. Douthwaite also recommends you “create physical limitations for yourself,” perhaps by doing like she did and making a pact with a coworker to only go off on tirades in each other’s office. This practice “really makes me think twice about each of my complaints — does this certain annoyance really warrant a trip to her office, where I’ll be distracting her from her work, just so I can vent?”

The answer is no, but even for problems that are super vexing, Douthwaite says venting isn’t always as good as using your time to think about solutions. That’s her second piece of advice, and it’s a good one. Say you have a colleague who never replies to emails in a timely fashion. Wouldn’t it be better to brainstorm better communication methods than bouncing off the walls and getting more worked up?

Douthwaite’s third tip is to write about your frustrations in a “stress journal.” There are a couple of different ways this can help. First, by really thinking about the things that upset you — certain weekly meetings, for example — you might discover they’re not as terrible as you think. Or, you might figure out new ways to deal with the situation and get through the experience with less anger and anxiety or whatever bad feeling your left with. If nothing else, you’ll have a better idea of your stress triggers and learn to see warning signs well in advance.

Finally, Douthwaite is a fan of accentuating the positive and balancing the bad stuff with the good. You can do this, she says, by being more observant of your colleagues and, say, complimenting others on good work. Maybe that training you went to last week had some helpful moments that made the whole thing worthwhile — or not a total waste of time. Look on the bright side, turn that frown upside down, and whatever you do, don’t throw that computer out the window.


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