March 01, 2011

Burning Bridges: How to Avoid Making Enemies at Work (and in general)

I'm sure you've all been in a position where some other person has done or said something so annoying or rude that you just want to scream profanities at them or insult them somehow. Don't. In the heat of the moment, retaliation might make you feel all high and mighty but the potentially irreparable damage you've done to your relationship with this person may very well end up nipping you in the butt.

Reasons not to seek revenge:
  1. Depending on the nature of the crime, retaliation, and the second person involved, this could be the beginning of a terrible enemy-ship. What a huge waste of time and energy.
  2. Other people are watching. They might have missed the attack on you but if they see you lash back, you'll be the one they are judging.
  3. "Revenge is a dish that's best served cold" .. probably because after a couple days, you realize the whole situation isn't a big deal and lashing out isn't necessary.
  4. Long gone are the days of elementary school and don't you want to approach your problems with more maturity than you did during your single-digit ages?
  5. You could be blowing up over some stupid little misunderstanding. Then wouldn't you feel silly!

Things to do instead:
  1. If you're upset by something that was said, ask the other person about it and make sure that you interpreted his/her words and meaning correctly.
  2. Explain to the other person how his/her comment/action made you feel. He/she probably didn't mean to offend you.
  3. Physical activity is a great outlet but obviously if you're at work you can't take a martial arts or a dance break. But you probably could take a 5-minute walk. Go outside and walk the perimeter of the office building or stay inside and wander around the hallways. As long as you get back to work after a couple of minutes, no one should mind.
  4. Listen to some music. As readers of a blog on breaking into the music industry, you should know more than anyone what a great outlet music can be. Just put in headphones and make sure the volume is such that you aren't disturbing anyone else.
  5. Get back to work! Well, you should do this anyway but generally the best way to calm down is always to put your mind on something else. So put your mind to your work and never mind what happened.

This doesn't just apply to the work environment. Learning to hold your tongue instead of giving a reflex response will help protect your reputation with your colleagues and your friends.

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer | @katie_hazard
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