We all have our office pet peeves – annoyingly loud ringtones, getting copied in on pointless e-mails, rude co-workers, micro-managing bosses or looming, last-minute deadlines.

Individually, they’re a strain on our patience and when they come at you at one go, you’d be hard-pressed not to blow your top. We consult the experts for the best tips to keep your cool and carry on.

Keep your cool and stay sane at work with these tips. Image: Corbis

1. QUICK FIXES

  • GRAB A FEEL-GOOD SNACK. Career coach Jass Malaney assures us that you don’t have to feel guilty about reaching for that emergency stash of snacks: “It’s okay to visit your favourite foods when you’re feeling emotionally stressed – a bar of chocolate can do wonders to get you back on track!”
  • PLAN A HOLIDAY. Look forward to that short getaway, long break or even short leave dates you planned. “If you think about all the wonderful things you will be eating and doing during that break, things will not bother you that much,” says Jass.
  • FIND A “SUPERMAN PHONE BOOTH”. Therapist Cheng Chee Seng recommends you find an oasis of calm in the office. “This is a place where you can go to after a trying experience and come out feeling better. It shouldn’t be the restroom or pantry, though – try a cafe nearby, or get into your car and turn up the music.”

2. DEALING WITH DIFFICULT COLLEAGUES

  • COME CLEAN. Personal coach Celestine Chua recommends being honest with difficult colleagues: “Focus on their overall behaviour rather than specific situations, and be transparent about your discomfort. Give clear reasons why you feel the way you do – without getting personal – and allow them to share their side of the story so that you can come to a mutual compromise.”
  • TAKE THE HIGHER GROUND. “If a co-worker is being difficult, stop complaining and think about what you can learn from this instead – are you doing the same thing to others?” says Jass. “If it’s a subordinate who’s stressing you out, think about what support you can give him or her to get the job going. Take the co-worker for a coffee and talk things out, instead of losing your steam over the things that have not been done.”
  • MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. “There’s nothing you can do to change the way nasty people behave,” says Chee Seng. “However, we can change our own behaviours and reactions when interacting with them – tone down your expectations and anticipate their moves. Once you get the job done, they won’t have much backing to snipe at you and you go home with lighter footsteps.”

3. DEALING WITH THE BOSSES

  • SCHEDULE REGULAR REVIEWS. If your boss is making unreasonable demands or being overly critical, try turning the negative into a positive and change your approach in dealing with them. “For example, many people wait for bosses to give reviews,” says Celestine. “Instead, be proactive and initiate regular one-to-one performance reviews with your boss. They’ll be pleasantly surprised and more than happy to share valuable information on how you can better perform at your job.”

4. OUT-OF-THE-OFFICE REMEDIES

  • DO STRESS-RELIEF EXERCISES. There is a life outside the office. Jass says: “When anxiety strikes, hit the gym – any form of exercise like swimming, tennis or running increases your endorphins, and makes you relaxed and happy. Alternatively, arrange to meet a friend and just chill out and chat – sharing decreases the burden and gives you a release of stress.”
  • FEEL THE LOVE. Combat the office craziness with your husband when you come home because love, or more precisely, being loved is the greatest antidote for job-related stresses, says Chee Seng. “And sex is the nirvana of it all.”

5. PRE-EMPTING THE STRESS

  • THROUGH POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: “Acknowledge yourself at the start of the day and again at the end of the day. We might not be used to recognising our own qualities or values but that’s actually very important,” says executive coach Wong Hsiao-Wei. “Celebrate every success – nothing is too small for celebration.”

Jass Malaney is a career coach from Acquire Coaching and Training International. To find out more, email info@acquirecoaching.com or call 65 9029-1588.

Celestine Chua is a personal coach from The School of Personal Excellence. Visit Celestine’s Personal Excellence blog for more information on Celestine’s one-to-one coaching services.

Cheng Chee Seng is the principal therapist from Life Transitions. The company is located 391B Orchard Road #23-01, Tower B, (S) 238874; Tel: 68328022, email: cheeseng@lifetransitions.com.sg. Go to www.lifetransitions.com.sg for more information.

Wong Hsiao-Wei is an executive coach from Madiff. The human resource consultancy is located at  11 Collyer Quay, #14-08, The Arcade, Singapore 049317; for further enquiries, email: info@madiff.com.sg.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer August 2011.