We’ve all been there.
You’re progressing along on a project or a plan at work and suddenly, as if you were driving in a car that abruptly shifted to reverse, the plan gets halted, changed, or worse- cancelled completely. You then find yourself moving through the halls with that feeling in the pit of your stomach. The unsettling one that won’t leave you alone and never seems to go away. Or maybe it rears its ugly head in a different way. Maybe it’s a co-worker who drives you crazy or the work environment you’re in altogether. You find yourself losing sleep, time with your family and, most importantly, your own sense of peace.
Whatever the source, this is the product: Frustration.
By Webster’s definition it is “a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.” Let’s add to that: it just plain stinks! You can’t avoid it, you can’t wish it away, and you can’t escape it. You have to learn to navigate your way through it. In the 13 years I’ve spent as a professional in ministry I’ve encountered frustration many many times. So much that I can’t even begin to keep track. Where I sit now, looking back over the distance I’ve traveled, I’ve learned a few things about frustration. Here are some things that I believe help to manage it when it shows up at your workplace:
1. Pray about it.
Prayer covers a multitude of sins but it does something else- it moves you to a place of peace. This tends to be the hardest thing to do and the easiest thing to forget. But the times that I’ve done this, I’ve been able to move past frustration to a healthier thought process on the situation I’m dealing with.
2. Remain professional.
Frustration wins when you stop acting like a professional and start acting like an entitled child in your place of employment. Plus you ruin your credibility and level of trust.
3. Don’t become cancer.
It’s so easy, out of raw human emotion, to want to step into someone else’s office and “vent” when you’re frustrated. Or when someone asks you ‘how things are going’ your first instinct is to blow up and express your frustration bluntly. What you become, however, is a cancer that spreads throughout the organization. And eventually everyone sees this clearly. The best thing you can do is find one or two people you can trust and be honest with and professionally share your thoughts. And here’s the other thing: those 2 people must be allowed to speak truth back to you and bring another perspective or their role in helping you manage your frustration means zero!
4. Remember: it isn’t forever.
Frustration comes and goes. Once you overcome the frustration you’re currently dealing with, guess what: More frustration shows up. And then that frustration goes away. It doesn’t last. It may go away because you go away, but regardless, there’s always an endpoint.
5. Be honest and upfront.
I’m fortunate to work in a church with team leaders that I can be honest and upfront with. Unfortunately many of you do not have this and my heart goes out to you. All I can recommend is that if you are in an environment where you can speak honestly and be forthcoming, take advantage of this. Your supervisor is not a mind-reader. He or she cannot know your thoughts unless you express them. *Caution: refer to #’s 2 & 3 when doing this.
Frustration will show up one way or another. It’s not a problem you can solve, but merely a tension you have to manage. What are some other ways you’ve found helpful in managing frustration in the workplace?