You’re at the end of your tether, and your boss drops another project on you. It’s the final straw. Next thing you know, you’ve flown into a rage. What do you do next? Follow these three steps to salvage the situation with minimal damage.
Give yourself a time-out
Remove yourself from the scene of the crime, pronto. You aren’t going to make a smooth recovery in front of all your co-workers.
“If possible, put some physical distance between yourself and the situation,” says Lai Han Sam, life coach at Lifework Global. Excuse yourself politely, reschedule important meetings and have somebody cover for you so you can protect your professional integrity.
Then, find a quiet place so you can bawl your eyes out or call a friend to rant. Once that’s out of your system, close your eyes and take 10 deep, slow breaths.
Write down exactly what happened, how you’re feeling, and how your colleagues reacted. Don’t type, because writing forces you to slow down and process your thoughts, says Han Sam. “It’s hard to be agitated when you have to concentrate on putting your words on paper.”
When you’re done, read what you’ve written. This helps you take a step back, see everything from a third-person perspective, and help calm you down.
Next, figure out what really caused you to lose your cool. Think about the week or month that you’ve had – has anything changed to throw you off balance?
Once you fix that, you’re less likely to experience a repeat meltdown.
Own your mistake
You’re human. It’s okay to get worked up. “An emotion is a spontaneous reaction,” explains Han Sam. That’s why a surge of anger or stress can cause you to lose control of your behaviour.
Still, when a meltdown happens, it could give your boss reason to think that you’re not as reliable as they thought. So fix the situation, stat. Don’t wait for your supervisor to bring it up.
Offer a sincere apology, face-to-face – no e-mails or text messages allowed. Han Sam adds: “You don’t have to explain yourself, particularly if the reason for your outburst was deeply personal, unless the person is able to help you resolve the problem.”
Work out an action plan
Repair the damage, especially if you’ve mucked up a presentation or missed a deadline. “Ask for a doover, and this time, do an even better job. It will be hard work, but it will help to restore your colleagues’ and clients’ faith in you,” says Han Sam.
Once you’ve identified the cause of the meltdown, make sure you don’t lose the plot at work again. Talk things over with friends, or pick up a hobby to relieve stress. Consider telling your team about what you’re dealing with, so that they won’t be blindsided by any future outbursts.
This story was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Her World magazine.