4 Things to Do Instead of Losing Your Cool at Work

negative-nellyby Courtney Clark


You know the feeling—your cheeks get hot, your hands clench. When we’re frustrated, it’s hard to focus on anything else. But if we want to be successful, you have to figure out how to come out on top (not BLOW your top!) even when you’re in a stressful situation.

So how do you keep your cool and manage your frustration at work?

Make conflict work for you

Believe it or not, some office conflict is actually productive. Often, disagreements can help us innovate better, and refine ideas into solutions. But in order for conflict to stay productive, it can’t be personal. Healthy conflict is what’s known as “task-related conflict,” where the parties involved agree on a general purpose or outcome, but disagree on how to get there. If you can keep task-related conflict from making you feel agitated, it usually results in higher quality work outputs.

When you’re feeling combative, take a moment and try to recognize whether the person frustrating you is challenging you personally, or just challenging your idea. If you can keep the disagreement task-related, your work environment will stay pleasant.

Look for clarity

Frustration can make it hard to see things clearly. When we’re irritated, we make assumptions about other people, we jump to conclusions about things happening behind closed doors… we might even be dreaming up worse scenarios in our heads than what’s actually happening! Instead of proceeding blindly, ask constructive questions. Talk to a friendly colleague for their perspective. Or simply get a little peace of mind within yourself by being mindful. Even in frustrating circumstances, you can help your brain feel less frustrated by not giving in and sucking up all the frustration around you.

Vent the right way

It’s natural to want a supportive friend when you’re frustrated. But not all ways of getting support are healthy. Often, we use a technique known as “venting,” when we’re frustrated, and venting comes with a high price. Venting has been shown to actually keep your frustration level high, because it doesn’t provide any solutions or progress. So, don’t bottle up your feelings—connecting and sharing with other people helps you feel less isolated, and gives you another perspective. Just be sure to communicate in a healthy, productive way, rather than venting and staying stuck on the issue.

Flex your power

One common cause of workplace frustration is a perceived lack of control. When you don’t feel like you have power to impact a situation, it’s irritating. But even worse—once you feel like you don’t have the power to make an impact at work, you start to lose your motivation, and your work quality slips!

If you feel dissatisfied at work because of a lack of power, there’s hope. Studies show that building up your personal power in another area, like your home life, or one of your favorite hobbies, actually helps you feel more powerful and competent in every arena of your life. Find an activity where you can shine, either at work or outside of work, and watch your feelings of frustration fade away.

If you really want to be successful at work, try being the person who keeps cool even when things get stressful. In those moments when you want to make everyone else in your office disappear, you can try a few simple tricks to make your frustration disappear, instead. It may not be magic, but it works!


Catch Courtney and other spectacular speakers at IAAP Summit 2018 in Austin, Texas. Find out why IAAP Summit is the go-to conference for office and administrative professionals year-in and year-out. Hurry, early bird pricing ends in January.


Courtney Clark provides content-based motivation that helps individuals adapt faster, achieve more, and develop Accelerated ResilienceTM. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyClark.com 


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