by Courtney Butler, Head Editor, INALJ Idaho
While I have my share of awful, grumpy days (and I don’t think anyone would refer to me as one of those “always happy” people), I make a strong, concerted effort to always be a positive, optimistic force in the workplace. I do this for a number of reasons:
1) Your bad mood can put everybody else in a bad mood and ruin the whole day
Few things are more disappointing than waking up in a great mood, be-bopping to work with the intent to have an amazing, productive day, and being immediately greeted by scowls, eye rolling, sighs, and complaining. It’s pretty difficult to keep that skip in your step when everyone else is shuffling around with slumped shoulders and looks of defeat or general hostility.
2) Complaining accomplishes nothing
It may come as no surprise that sitting around talking about why a problem is unsolvable will not solve the problem or make it go away. And complaining is most definitely not going to make that enormous pile of paperwork disappear off your desk or that annoying patron suddenly decide to go away and never come back. There are better times, places, and even ways to vent than spending the first and last two hours of each work day sitting around grumbling about how you have to do that one thing you hate with that one person who just grinds on your nerves. Besides,
3) Gossip is not conducive to teamwork
Everyone complains about other people. You know you do it, so don’t act so shocked when you find out someone else is doing it too. However, it becomes an issue when the venting is not done discreetly. Don’t complain about someone you work with while standing in the middle of the office because you think they’re out to lunch. If they walk back in and overhear you then it’s only going lead to hurt feelings and awkward future interactions. And don’t make it obvious that every time two people go into an office and close the door they’re complaining about someone else in the office. Other people will sit around wondering, “Are they talking about me? What did I do wrong?” It’s very distracting.
All that being said, I know you’re not a robot. We all need to feel our feelings and express our disappointments and frustrations from time to time. However, there are a number of ways you can go about doing this without being a constant downer in the office. Some methods include:
1) Write it down – journaling can be very therapeutic
2) Call, text, or message a friend, significant other, or someone else outside of work during a break (but make sure your venting won’t be overheard)
3) Exercise. Anything from walking to dancing will work as long as it relieves some tension and pumps you up with some endorphins.
4) Identify exactly what it is that frustrates you and find constructive ways to deal with these frustrations. The Mayo Clinic offers some advice on handling “triggers” here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coping-with-stress/SR00030
5) Fake it til you make it. Did you know that some people think even a fake smile will make you feel happier? It’s worth a shot, right? http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/study-forcing-a-smile-genuinely-decreases-stress/260513/
You and your co-workers are not all going to be little balls of sunshine 365 days a year. Most jobs are more frustrating than fun, and only a very lucky few actually wake up every single morning excited to get to work. But if everyone puts in just a little extra effort to focus on solutions instead of problems and to avoid taking out bad moods on co-workers then you may all be surprised by just how much more pleasant being at work can become. :)