Stop Stressing Out! » Blog Archive » Ways to Deal with Stress in the Workplace

Confucius once said, “If you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Well, Confucius may have been right, but chances are, no matter how much you love your job, it will still stress you out from time to time, and for a variety of reasons.

Things that could make your job stressful:

  • You feel overwhelmed by the work.
  • You feel disrespected by your boss or co-workers.
  • You don’t feel as though you’re being paid enough for the work that you do.
  • You’re embarrassed about what you do.
  • You think about quitting every day.
  • You don’t feel as though your job is allowing you to fulfill your life’s potential.
  • Your job is keeping you from enjoying life.
  • You work at a job that emphasizes extensive customer service, which means you have to deal with a handful of rude people every day.

What To Do When You Hate Your Job

In the U.S., many people seem married to their jobs. Work is their life. But work is also a common source of stress. If your job is stressing you out to a point where you can’t sleep, constantly dread going into work, or generally feel miserable about it, then consider making a job change. True, switching jobs is easier said than done. But the point is, it can be done. Ultimately, the choice is yours, and you need to do what’s best for you. Changing jobs isn’t necessarily as scary or as intimidating as you might think. Nowadays, people are more likely to change careers more often than before, and there are resources available to help them make that change.

In the event where you hate your job, consider thinking about what you would really like to do and research jobs in that area. If you have a friend/family member/friend of a friend currently working in your area of interest, arrange to get in touch with them and ask them how they got where they were. If you went to a university, your alumni network may have a number of contacts who would more than willing to meet with you and discuss your future. Chances are, these people probably didn’t start out in their fields either.

If you aren’t qualified to do what you want to do, come up with a plan. It may involve investing in more education or training, which inevitably takes up more money and time. But in the long run, it’s worth it. It certainly beats being miserable five days – possibly more – of the week and not feeling as though you can do anything to change it.

Stress can be magnified when we feel stuck in a situation or uncertain about what to do next. In order to regain control of your work life and figure out a plausible solution, you must be willing to take risks from time to time. Maybe you really don’t know what you want to do. That’s okay. A lot of people don’t. Visit a career counselor or find some reading material that can help you discover what kind of work would be most fulfilling for you. Then come up with a plan and proceed from there. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we have to be willing to take that first step if we want to make any difference.

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss or Co-worker

In the work environment, it’s likely that you’ll encounter people who seem to make your life hell. This may make you feel angry, confused, bitter, or stressed. There may be days where you imagine what the world would be like if they suddenly disappeared. But chances are, they’re not going to.

Since you’re probably going to see this person nearly every day, it might be a bad idea to try to avoid them altogether, tempting as that might be. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Instead, consider a more conciliatory approach. Ask the co-worker or your supervisor if you can have a talk with them, either outside of work or during a break. Discuss your problem with him/her openly and respectfully. This usually works better in person than through e-mail or on the phone, as the latter means of communication are more vulnerable to misunderstandings and does not allow the same level of openness as a conversation face-to-face would.

During the confrontation, be assertive by using “I” statements (“I think it’s a little unfair when you talk about me behind my back”) but don’t out-right attack them. Avoid using superlatives at all costs (“You always eat my sandwiches when I leave them in the fridge”) and general complaints (“Why don’t you ever shower?”). If you’re voicing a grievance or annoyance, try to be specific (“Remember on Thursday when I left my sandwich in the fridge…”). If a co-worker refuses to be cooperative and continues to make your job more difficult than it needs to be, consider going to your supervisor to discuss it. But always try to talk to the person in question first.

How to Deal with Difficult People in General

At many jobs, especially those dealing with customer service, the policy is that “the customer is always right.” While this may not always be true, the workplace is not a good place to prove them wrong. If a customer is unreasonable, unruly, or just downright rude, try to remain calm and professional. Letting them see you get angry or irritated may just provoke them more. Most of the time, raging customers may be angry at “the system” rather than you personally. Try not to take to heart any of the mean or hurtful things they might say. Even if they are an absolute dick, their rudeness is their problem, not yours.

Maintain verbal contact with the difficult party and let them know that you have heard what they have to say. Keep eye contact, actively listen to their concerts, and nod, etc. You may completely disagree with what they’re saying, but saying so will not change their mind. Some empathetic statements you can make are “I understand…”, “That may be true, but…” Make sure the person knows that they have your full attention. If they continue to be a nuisance, do not sink to their level. Immediately contact a supervisor and ask for assistance.